Faced with daunting schedules, ROTC students find time to make it work
ROTC students push themselves to the limit outside of class time
The buzzing beside sophomore Quinn O’Hagan’s head continuously sounds as his eyes slowly open. It’s Monday; the sun has yet to rise, and O'Hagan’s heart is already pounding as he rustles around his pitch-black dorm room to get ready for the day. The sun just begins to rise once ROTC members make it to first formation, an hour-long workout.
O'Hagan’s mornings look like this three days a week. No matter what assignments he’s stayed up late completing or what kind of week he has ahead of him, he knows that for three days every week he has to be up by 5 a.m. and at training by 6:15 a.m.
For most college students, waking up to sit in an 8 a.m. class is painful enough. However, members of the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) are not like most college students.
O’Hagan said he has to rework his entire sleep schedule in order to maintain energy throughout the rest of his day.
"I think I'm more of an anomaly because sleep is extremely important to me," O'Hagan said. "I try to avoid naps. Last year I was still trying to figure things out, and I would sleep erratically."
Following an early morning training session, instead of heading right back to bed, most ROTC members carry out the long-running tradition of grabbing breakfast together.
Sophomore Louis Popkin recognizes the importance of connecting with his team outside of training.
"After the workout, a lot of us go to TDR together,” Popkin said. “It's a morale bonding thing. We sit together at the same tables every time."
O’Hagan said this tradition is his favorite because it allows him to build friendships with fellow ROTC members.
“I think a big part of the appeal for me, at least, is being able to sit down with them, relax a little and get to know everyone better,” O’Hagan said.
While two out of three training days look like this, one day a week, all ROTC members take part in "Train Up." A classroom-based lesson that helps members prepare for Advanced Camp, Train Up is a summer-based intensive that builds up ROTC members’ physical and mental strength.
Popkin recognizes the importance of both the physical and mental lessons he partakes in every week.
"We really push on those things [during "Train Up"] so that all of us go in already knowing everything and so that we all excel," Popkin said.
For junior Sophie Nowak, the key to excelling within ROTC is juggling time commitments outside of training.
"The time management is hard,” said Nowak. “It's hard weighing your priorities. I am a student first, but figuring out the balance is sometimes really difficult."
While finding a balance between school and ROTC brings its own set of challenges, O’Hagan, Popkin and Nowak agree ROTC has helped them not only set goals and structure to their schedules, but has allowed them to find their closest friends.
"Having that built-in friend group is incredible and feeling part of a team is the best part of being in ROTC," O'Hagan said.
While the schedule can be daunting, it is worthwhile for the relationships ROTC students forge with others in the program. For Nowak, the friendships she made during her freshman year within ROTC have yet to fade.
"I love the people so much,” said Nowak. “One of my best friends in college is also in the program, and we literally do everything together. It's a great atmosphere and community."