By Nick Schleh, Staff Writer
Last week an article was published covering the logistics of the ROTC program. This story is a follow-up piece covering the experiences of students currently in the program and what kind of structure Bravo Company has offered them as well as the personal connections they have made.
Senior Cadet and English major Megan Bennett and sophomore Cadet and leadership studies major Derek Davidson, discussed their experiences of being a part of the Bravo Company.
Davidson said that on a personal level, the ROTC program gave him a sense of structure in his life.
“Coming to college is a big change for a lot of people,” he said. “So, having the ROTC element and the structure of a healthy lifestyle and being focused on your classes has helped me to grow a lot more.”
Davidson is a student and lacrosse player for St. Joseph’s College, one of the universities that make up Bravo Company along with USM, UNH and UNE.
“A huge part about being a leader is to mentor and build the skills of those around you,” Davidson said, “there is nothing more satisfying than seeing someone new join the program, you see that they are driven, and you work alongside them and you start to see their success.”
Davidson said that the new family members he’s gained from the ROTC program will be a part of his life for a long time to come. “Having that community aspect brings along a great support system for everyone,” he said and Bennett agrees.
“I came my second semester of freshman year and I didn’t know anyone,” said Bennett, who transferred to USM her freshman year and joined the ROTC program soon after. “I joined a community and a group of people I could connect with,” she said.
Bennett said that a major appeal to the program was that everyone in Bravo Company is like-minded and has similar aspirations and are willing to help the other members achieve their goals.
“We are becoming so much more than students,” she said. Last summer, Bennett went down to Kentucky for training and met a captain that inspired her. She said that there are high expectations for female officers, especially ones going into combat roles. After seeing this officer so driven while facing adversity, Bennett said, “This is what I want to be.”
Both Bennett and Davidson were adamant about the mentorship they found within the program. “When I first came here there was a senior named Cadet Carlton,” Davidson said. “He was a huge driving force for me.”
Davidson saw a form of success and was motivated by his peers to achieve it.
“You get exposure,” Davidson said, “meeting all these new people and being a part of this community, you get exposure to a really diverse group of individuals. You get to see what you like and what you want to be and learn from them.”
Bennett and Davidson both said that the program has taught them to set goals and achieve them, as well as how to socialize and deal with different personalities in a positive manner. Bennett said she has learned to be stronger mentally and physically.
“The whole philosophy behind ROTC is that leadership can be taught,” Davidson said, “If you want something in life, this is the type of program that teaches you how to do that.”
Bennett ended the discussion by saying, “I have a family from this,” and how grateful she is for that. For students interested in joining the ROTC program at USM or for more information, Major Gregory Hayes can be contacted at [email protected].