Eight BJU students were contracted into the Army and Air Force ROTC programs and awarded scholarships at an official ceremony today.
Bob Jones University ROTC students strive to exemplify the best of the military attitude, as well as the Christian testimony of BJU.
BJU students now make up about a quarter of the Furman battalion, according to Col. Christopher Manganaro, the Army ROTC professor of military science at Furman.
The BJU Army ROTC program partners with Furman University to provide cadets training to start their careers in the Army as second lieutenants. After contracting, cadets have their tuition and fees covered by the Army. In return, cadets pledge to serve four years in active duty or six years in the U.S. Army Reserve or National Guard.
Manganaro stressed that the ROTC program accepts only students who present character described as “SAL”: scholar, athlete, leader. These qualities together are what it takes to make a well-rounded leader. BJU students, Manganaro said, consistently deliver on these abilities.
But BJU students in the program have a focus above and beyond the SAL characteristics. BJU also partners with Clemson University’s Air Force ROTC program, and to Elizabeth Pratt, a junior BJU student in her second year of Air Force ROTC, the program represents an opportunity to be a testimony as well as an opportunity to better herself.
“It’s a fantastic program for anyone who wants to be able to serve others and push themselves to be better,” Pratt said.
Pratt also said she had to learn to deal with some opposition from fellow cadets attending other universities such as Clemson. But Pratt said even this challenge provided an opportunity to be a testimony.
When Pratt and her fellow BJU cadets responded positively to the teasing, even occasionally participating in the jokes, Clemson students felt comfortable enough to approach the BJU cadets about more serious topics, Pratt said.
Andrew Taylor, a BJU junior in his fourth year with the ROTC program, also values the opportunities offered by the program.
“I wouldn’t see enough of a reason to be here…unless I felt I could be useful for God,” Taylor said.
Taylor said the new experiences of the ROTC program have been challenging—which makes them valuable.
“I’m glad I have the opportunity to make those adjustments, because they’ll be useful to me later in life,” Taylor said.
Brandon Swain, a BJU sophomore in the Air Force ROTC program, said prospective cadets will have opportunities to build relationships with fellow cadets, as well as push themselves to a higher level.
“Expect a challenge, but don’t be discouraged by that, because if you push through that, you can be a much better person because of it, spiritually and physically,” Swain said.
The ROTC Air Force program is one of the most challenging things Aaron Doney, a junior, said he has ever done in his life.
But according to Doney, the opportunities for growth have been worth it, even more so than the tuition benefits.
“Instead of going in expecting something for free, go in expecting to put in your best effort and get something that will last you longer than college,” Doney said.
Students considering the ROTC program should contact Com. Alan Carper at firstname.lastname@example.org.