Monday, Sept. 14, 2009
K-STATE'S ARMY ROTC PROGRAM SEES ANOTHER RECORD YEAR OF ENROLLMENT
MANHATTAN -- Fall enrollment in Kansas State University's Army ROTC program is at an all-time high of 165 cadets. Since 2006, the program has grown around 40 percent in cadet numbers.
"The real catalyst of our program's growth over the last several years has been the tremendous success of our cadets," said Lt. Col Scott Bridegam, head of the department of military science and K-State's Army ROTC program. "Our ability to recruit and retain quality cadets is a byproduct of their success and has driven more and more outstanding prospects to K-State."
Bridegam said that K-State's Wildcat Battalion is one of the top programs in Kansas -- with the highest percentage of honor graduates from the U.S. Army's Leadership Development and Assessment Course among state schools. He also said that the battalion leads the region in the number of four-year scholarships available to cadets.
"Year after year, cadets in K-State's Army ROTC program are ranked among the top in the nation in for academics and leadership," Bridegam said.
Potential cadets receive personal attention and are well informed of the demands and benefits of the ROTC program, Bridegam said. To help retention, new cadets in K-State's Army ROTC program are mentored by older, more experienced cadets in the same academic field. More Army ROTC scholarship opportunities are now available, too.
University support for the military and K-State's proximity to Fort Riley also help, according to Bridegam. Many of the program's cadets also have prior experience with the military.
One of the program's new recruits, Michelle Bacon, freshman in theater, Abilene, said that her father – a career noncommissioned Army officer -- inspired her to join.
"I respect my father for everything he has done for his country and family," she said. "I wanted to follow in his footsteps but also wanted a college education."
Bacon said the Army ROTC program is no cakewalk. Cadets take part in physical training every morning at 6 a.m., additional labs where basic ROTC drills, military tactics and teamwork are taught, and they're tested in several areas at the end of the semester.
"I give the program a lot of time," she said. "But the skills and values I'm learning will help me with my classes as well as in my career."
Wildcat Battalion member Christopher Pierson, senior in management, Leavenworth, also comes from a military family.
"I want to look back on my life and know that I did everything I can to protect and help others in both the United States and around the world," Pierson said. "If you want to look back at your life and not have to think twice about whether you did good, then service in this country's Army is the best way to go. There is no greater personal challenge and honor than to put on the uniform of a soldier."
Bridegam said that while students in the Wildcat Battalion are at K-State to earn their degree, they walk away from the program with much more than academics.
"Cadets who successfully complete the Army ROTC curriculum depart with a deep sense of commitment to service to their nation, problem solving and leadership skills that are in high demand in both the military and civilian sectors, and the mental, physical and emotional confidence that they need to succeed," he said.
More information about K-State's Wildcat Battalion is online at http://armyrotc.ksu.edu