Sep 122010
 
Authors: Andrew Carrera

Arianne “Ari” Allen stands at attention Thursday night before 24 fellow uniformed Army cadets with an American flag in the background and officially contracts eight years of her post-college life to the military.

Her parents, beaming with pride, gaze upon the small ceremony unfolding before them with friends snapping photos at every angle to capture the moment when their daughter and friend takes a leap she has thought about for a while.

“I am so proud of her,” said Corina Byram, a friend and sophomore zoology major, in the moments following Allen’s oath. “I think this is fantastic. She has wanted this for a long time.”

The Army ROTC program at CSU has been present on campus since U.S. Congress created the organization in 1916. In the years before ROTC existed, the school played host to a drill team that met regularly since 1884.

Today, the program has 156 cadets who regularly outperform cadets from other big military schools like the University of Wyoming and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

In March of this year, five CSU cadets carried 35-pound packs across 26.2 miles in the sweltering New Mexico heat for a competition with other ROTC programs. After 5 hours and 45 minutes, the Rams placed first by more than 15 minutes.

Training for this event and others like it includes hour-long 6 a.m. workouts every Monday, Wednesday and Friday and military science classes on Tuesday and Thursday.

For ROTC students, almost all work leads up to the Leadership Development and Assessment Course, LDAC: a month-long exam in Fort Lewis, Wash., where cadets across the nation are graded by the U.S. military on 17 dimensions of leadership.

“Based off of those dimensions, the evaluator will give them either an excellent, a satisfactory or needs improvement rating,” said Russell Pinkston, senior ROTC press liaison. Placement in the military after ROTC is largely dependent on how one performs in the exam, he said.

CSU sent 12 cadets to LDAC this summer. “Four of the twelve received excellent ratings. No one got ‘needs improvement,’” he added.

When asked of the general reaction to their service in the military, cadets talked about the overwhelming support the Fort Collins community shows for the program.

“Ari (Allen) just told me the other day about how one lady approached her and thanked her and told her about how her son was in the Army, and they just got to talking about that,” said Britany Szugyi, a sophomore equine sciences major.
“She was really touched by it. It really encouraged her.”

But Allen has some memories of people who are less than enthusiastic about her decision to commit to the Army.

“I’ve got some people that are unsupportive. But they don’t matter because they don’t know me, and they don’t really know the program,” she said.

The ROTC program at CSU offers scholarships that pay for tuition to promising participants that extend up to four years.

Accepting the aid, however, binds you to military service that can be carried out while on reserve or in active duty. One can participate in ROTC for two years without committing to the armed forces.

The thought of serving in the armed forces scares some civilians, but to these cadets in the program, it is an honorable way of life that one can thrive in.

“There’s a sense of purpose every time you put on the uniform. And it’s some other reason other than just paying for college,” Allen said, as the sun set on her contract ceremony.

Staff writer Andrew Carrera can be reached at news@collegian.com.

Arianne “Ari” Allen stands at attention Thursday night before 24 fellow uniformed Army cadets with an American flag in the background and officially contracts eight years of her post-college life to the military.

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