WSU Army ROTC: A unique student experience

Sky Mundell

The Army ROTC on Weber State University campus. Cadets can complete the program over four years in school.

Amongst the myriad of opportunities and personal paths that students can take up during their time at Weber State University, the university’s Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps is one of them.

Joining the university’s Army ROTC program is not the same as enlisting in the Army.

As cadets complete the ROTC program over the course of four years, they learn necessary skills and earn the opportunity to earn a commission as a member of the military. Cadets move up through the ranks of MS1, MS2, MS3 and MS4 as they complete each year of curriculum. Upon completion of the program, graduating students have the opportunity to contract into the U.S. Army, the U.S. Army Reserves or the National Guard as an officer with the rank of Second Lieutenant.

However, the benefits that students can reap from the program go far beyond getting the chance to embark on a military career. These benefits include the chance to gain structure to one’s personal life, partake in scholarship and volunteer opportunities and the chance to build camaraderie with fellow cadets, which could lead to the establishment of long-lasting relationships.

The camaraderie and support between the cadets in the ROTC program is an incentive. It stands as one of the most significant reasons why cadets continue their involvement in the program and choose to continue their military career after completion of the program.

“I have best friends I’ll have for life,” Carter Claflin, a freshman MS1 cadet in the WSU Army ROTC, said.

Claflin said that although following the footsteps of his uncle and his father was what initially inspired him to join the program, it’s the camaraderie and support system he’s built with fellow cadets that he values most.

“When you’re surrounded by people who have goals that are similar to yours, they become supports,” James Toomalatai, an MS3 cadet, said.

Toomalatai expressed how he feels that his fellow cadets help him and support him, along with a feeling of camaraderie and being part of a team. A feeling that Toomalatai cites as one of the greatest benefits of being part of the program.

The Army ROTC program offers an opportunity to practice professionalism and leadership skills. Throughout each week, cadets have three physical training sessions and two classroom sessions where they learn essential aspects of military education such as ranks, tactics and on-the-field skills one might need while on active duty and teamwork.

“The military offers a lot of structure, and that’s something I really needed,” Toomalatai said.

Toomalatai also said the instructors in the program, in contrast to the culture he experienced in his time enlisted in the Army, are far more focused on the needs of their individual cadets and finding a way to better equip them for the future.

Even more, Toomalatai expressed gratitude for the willingness displayed by the instructors within the program. Cadets have access to scholarships and other financial assistance to those going through financially stressful times.

Emilin Castillo, an MS2 cadet and mother who is currently studying to become a nurse, commends the program and its instructors for all the support they’ve given to her, being a constant source of unwavering support.

“I’ve loved everything about it from the beginning,” Castillo said about her experience in the program. “It’s hard, it’s challenging, but everything in life’s challenging.”

WSU’s Army ROTC program offers students a chance to develop skills they will use for the rest of their lives and an experience for those interested in what a military career could look like for them.

“It’s a great way to earn your degree and serve your country at the same time,” Claflin said.