College students with a desire to serve in the U.S. military have the opportunity to join the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC), which offers scholarships to those wanting to serve in the military.
Current or future Oklahoma Christian University students can participate in ROTC through partnerships with the University of Central Oklahoma (UCO) and the University of Oklahoma (OU).
According to Associate Dean of Academics and registrar Stephanie Baird, Oklahoma Christian students doing an ROTC program through OU or UCO transfer their credits and receive a military science minor.
Although there are only six Oklahoma Christian students in ROTC currently, Baird said the university has a goal to reach 10 in the fall semester of 2019, which might be enough to get some courses for military science offered on campus.
“In their junior and senior year, in my understanding, is when they have a full ride or a really good scholarship,” Baird said. “It’s worth it to stick with it and get to that level and have that tuition assistance, but still it’s hard work. They go back and forth and scheduling their classes here can be tough because they have a set time they have to do their military science classes at UCO.”
ROTC students have a variety of majors and Baird said these have included political science, biology and pre-med. Although other universities have their own ROTC programs, Baird said students often want a Christian environment.
“Students who are here a lot of times like the community, smaller campus and smaller class sizes,” Baird said. “I think that’s a big draw. The downsize of us being a smaller school is we don’t have our own ROTC on campus. Because we are so close to UCO, we can benefit from that location and our relationship with them and there’s a way that a student can come to OC and have the small Christian environment and still have an ROTC experience if that’s what they want.”
Baird said there are conversations happening at the recruitment level to see how administration can be more intentional about ROTC students, as well as how many are needed for Oklahoma Christian to have its own program on campus.
Sophomore Courtney Wallace is in the Army ROTC. She said she chose the Army because it was the branch her father retired from as a military officer.
“I was fortunate to receive an Army ROTC scholarship, which will enable me to further my education and pursue my career as a dentist,” Wallace said. “I chose OC because I liked the Christian environment and the relationship between the professors and students seemed more personal.”
Wallace attended high school in Hawaii and said her school offered Navy Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC), which she participated in for two years. According to Wallace, the ROTC program is a very beneficial choice for anyone seeking a college degree.
“It builds comradery, instills discipline and you have a strong peer support network,” Wallace said. “[ROTC] will allow me to further my education into dental school and I will commission as a second Lieutenant.”
Senior Noah Turner said he was a part of a group in high school making efforts to establish a JROTC program for several years but chose to join Army ROTC during the summer after his sophomore year.
“I felt as though I needed to be serving in a larger capacity in my life,” Turner said. “I had always been drawn to the culture of excellence and camaraderie in the Army. I chose OC initially because it is a supportive Christian atmosphere and now I find, as an ROTC cadet, that creates a culture of stronger and more driven people. The other OC cadets all rely on each other and work together well and generally distinguish themselves as having a higher level of motivation and integrity.”
In addition to benefiting financially through scholarships, Turner said ROTC encourages more responsibility academically and socially.
“The average cadet will spend three hours at [physical training] and five hours in class every week, not including the extra time it takes to work out and study material on your own,” Turner said. “Having this responsibility and being taught how to handle it has made me stronger, both mentally and physically, and has made me much more self-disciplined.” .