Army ROTC back at Bradley in full force

ROTC and the military science program are back on campus this year with a much stronger program than last year and a more than 400 percent increase in student involvement.
“The military science courses are specifically designed to teach young cadets leadership and to be prepared to become part of the United States Army,” Lt. Col. Michael Kirkton said. “They also learn the fundamentals of traditions they will have as a commissioned officer.”
While students who join ROTC and the military science program are usually freshmen, sophomores and juniors, seniors occasionally join when they have at least two more years of school left at Bradley. The program consists of just 18 credit hours over the course of four years, but the Army determines the classes and subject matter that will be taught. 
“Our long term goal is to have Bradley recognize military science as a minor,” Kirkton said. “But that kind of thing doesn’t happen overnight.”
While there are countless reasons for a student to join ROTC, Kirkton said many join because they want to serve the nation and get a college education.
“A lot of students join because they want to help the country, as well as prevent another 9/11,” he said. “Our country is fighting a global war on terrorism right now, and people want to help.”
Jasper Lopez, a sophomore chemistry and engineering major, said he joined ROTC while he was in the Army Reserves to ensure he received his required college education.
“I joined ROTC to make sure I got my education paid for,” he said.  “There are also extremely beneficial leadership opportunities in the program, as well as real world application. I’m learning to be much more adaptable and a better leader. I can also put my experience in the military on my resume.”
Some of the perks involved in joining ROTC and the military include the $48,000 to $52,000 paycheck after graduating and the opportunity to travel. Soldier and equipment training is learned, as well as initial working experience and immense leadership training.
Scholarships are also offered at Bradley for ROTC, and Kirkton said he hopes more students will take advantage of them. There are only four students with scholarships right now, but the desired number is between 10 and 12, Kirkton said.
The program has grown in large amounts over the past year.
“We went from nine students last year to 36 this year,” he said. “That’s growth of 450 percent.”
Lopez said he’s excited ROTC is back on campus.
“We have a much greater presence on campus now,” he said. “We’re involved in ceremonies, like the one for Constitution Day. The administration supports us a lot too, and it’s really exciting.”