The ROTC program at CSU is growing at a rapid rate, with 166 new members enrolling for the fall semester.
The Air Force program has had121 new members join and the Army program has had 45 new members join their ranks since last fall.
“The most important thing about ROTC is that (a cadet) knows he has work when he gets done with college. He knows he has unlimited career potential,” said Maj. Leslie Pratt, an assistant professor in the Department of Aerospace Studies. “Military service is not a job, it’s a calling to serve.”
The tragedy of Sept. 11 has been considered as a reason for the high enrollment.
“I think people understand that we do have something that is worth protecting here,” said Army Master Sgt. Frank McConnell. “I think (some students) enrolled in military science because of Sept. 11, even if they don’t necessarily know that’s why they did it.”
Col. Mark Fry, detachment commander for the ROTC Air Force program, attributes the large enrollment numbers to an economic decline and increased patriotism among students.
“A lot of people are looking for job stability and a way to serve their country,” Fry said. “A lot of people think the current generation is the me-generation, but I think the freshmen we’re encountering want to find a way to serve others.”
The ROTC program offers students an opportunity to get tuition and living expenses, as well as training that will help with future careers. It also offers leadership training, character building, morale and discipline, Pratt said.
First-year Air Force cadet Rosanne Ussery cited the educational opportunities, discipline and the support-group atmosphere of the ROTC program as her main reasons for enrolling.
“I’ve enjoyed the camaraderie and the military atmosphere (of ROTC),” said Ussery, a speech communications major. “It’s really neat to be able to work with an operation like that.”
CSU ROTC students are automatically given officer status upon graduation and they immediately outrank roughly 80 percent military personal when they join the service, Pratt said.
“(ROTC) gives you experience that people want,” said first-year cadet Kathryn Bulger, a freshmen health and exercise science major. “It’s a career when you get out (of college), and most people have to look for a job.”