By Mackensie Moore, Iowa State daily
When Iowa State’s ROTC started out the 2013 year, they had high goals as a team — goals that were lived up to and surpassed by the members of the Cyclone Battalion.
“Our goal was to prove ourselves as individuals and to show that Iowa State is the number one program in the nation,” said Amanda Veen, senior in interdisciplinary studies and the cadet command sergeant major.
Each summer, the incoming seniors of the Army ROTC take the Leadership Development Assessment Course. The performances of the cadets at the course are then scored and awards are given to the best ROTC programs.
Overall, the Cyclone Battalion earned five awards.
This year’s cadets earned the No. 1 Program in the Third Brigade, a brigade that is made up of 41 host programs in a 10-state area.
“It’s justification of the effort that these kids put in day in and day out to make themselves better leaders,” said Richard Smith, professor of military science and tactics.
The seniors’ performances also earned the program the titles of No. 1 in Leadership Excellence and No. 1 in Training Excellence for the Third Brigade.
The spring 2013 graduates also earned the No. 1 Program in Commissioning Excellence, an award that assesses each cadet on their skills and involvement as they commission to join the army.
The cadets were also awarded No. 1 in Physical Fitness in the country, an award that looks at all cadets’ performances during the assessment course.
While the awards are based off the seniors’ performances, program members credit all program members as helping earn the titles.
“If the seniors wouldn’t have had the freshmen and sophomores to train and help develop those leadership styles, then they wouldn’t have been successful later on,” Smith said.
Attributing the success to the selflessness of each of the senior cadets, Smith is very proud of the seniors who have earned these awards because of their ability to put the whole battalion’s interests before their own.
“I started [my job] when they were sophomores, and it’s an amazing transition of development that you see in these guys,” Smith said.
There is also a strong sense of community among the members of ROTC, which they believe helps the program be successful.
“Everyone has different personalities and different interests, but we share the common drive to all become an army officer,” said Zachary Graham, senior in anthropology. “We’re all there for each other.”
Although the program performed well this year, members are always looking at ways to improve for next year.
“We look at scores from the past, look at our weaknesses and how we can improve,” Veen said.
Improving is something that is very important to the program, too.
“The hardest thing for us is to figure out how do you continue to motivate and develop these kids,” Smith said.
In order to better prepare the cadets for their future, Smith assesses the cadets throughout the semester and together they discuss how they can improve.
“I ask what are you doing not only to make yourself better, but what are you doing to make the organization better,” Smith said.
He also brings other leaders of the army into classes — that way, the younger cadets can ask questions in order to get different perspectives that help better develop them as leaders.
“You get out what you put in,” Veen said. “You’ve got to put in the effort and the work to better yourself and improve. Then seeking out that help and those resources is probably the biggest thing.”