By Delaney Vierkandt
Iowa State’s ROTC program is being named one of the most prestigious ROTC programs in the nation.
The ISU Army ROTC program is the top in the state of Iowa and one of the top in the country, said Lt. Col. Richard Smith, professor for military science and tactics.
“That means we’re one of the number one programs, not only regionally, but in the country,” Smith said. “Honestly, it’s because of our cadets.”
The ROTC program is run by the cadets and the group’s seniors run the day-to-day operations according to Master Sgt. Benjamin Pingle.
This year’s seniors are expected to face new experiences and a larger load.
“It has been kind of a culture shock to our new seniors this year to come to the understanding of ‘wow,’ how much work they have to do,” Smith said.
Pingle said the senior cadets are key to having a successful program.
Smith said the formula for success is that each class wants the class below them to be better than they were.
“It’s really them taking ownership of the program and ownership of the duties and responsibilities associated with that to train the underclass[men],” he said.
Pingle said he also believes part of it is the history the program has had.
“The program has been successful for many years,” he said. “Therefore, it attracts a lot of quality cadets. So when you bring in quality cadets, your standards are raised automatically.”
Each class wanting to be the best in a great program like this is the key, Smith said.
“The culture of success, the culture of excellence, just permeates the entire program,” Smith said. “They want to win, they want to be the best. And they know that in the last years, those that came before them, have been the best.”
Students participating in ROTC learn multiple skill sets that benefit them once their careers in the military are over.
“It is the best leadership course you can take,” Smith said. “It’s not just ‘I’ll have a job later on when I get out’. What our seniors find, is that it’s their senior internship year.”
This year Smith is especially excited for the class that is about to take control.
“It’s not about individual cadets, and this is something that I’m really excited about this year, these guys are a team,” he said. “These guys, and I mean the [Military Science Level 4] seniors, it’s not about the individual achievements of each one, it’s ‘Wow, look what we did as a team, as a program, as a unit,’ and that’s why we’re so successful, it’s these kids.”
Although the ROTC program has limited availability, Smith said that if someone works hard and wants it bad enough, they will continue on in the program.
“You’ve got to want to do it. And if you come in, we’ll give you every chance in the world to be successful. We will teach you what you need to know, but you’ve got to put the effort in,” Smith said. “If you really want to be here, you’re gonna be around.”