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ROTC cadet to be commissioned at December commencement

Ian Molina in a blackhawk helicopter. Photo provided by Evan Czajka.

The first things that come to mind when you hear “Army” are likely camouflage and combat, but there are many areas in which people can train.

Bradley’s Army ROTC program prepares students to be officers in the United States Army through tactical training and curriculum studies. 

Fifth-year finance major Ian Molina will be commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army during Bradley’s December commencement ceremony on Dec. 18. He will serve in the Quartermaster Corps, a logistics branch of the U.S. Army. 

Molina transferred to Bradley from Illinois Central College (ICC) his junior year and knew that he wanted to serve, so he joined the ROTC program after receiving a scholarship. He said the company is close-knit with around 15 cadets, and his experience has been a positive one. 

“[ROTC has] not just prepared me for the Army, it’s prepared me for a lot of practical life skills in the real world,” Molina said. “The Army is not all about fighting; it’s about leadership, and I’m going logistics, so it’s not like I’m going to be on the frontlines.” 

Maj. Evan Czajka is the assistant professor of military sciences, and he has seen Molina at work as a leader in the program.

“He’s always been very motivated, very positive, really curious about the program,” Czajka said. “He wants to leave his mark here and make it better and make sure there’s foundations here for the other cadets.”

Czajka said Molina has led recruitment efforts as well by setting up a booth at ICC and attending campus events at Bradley. He said the cadet is professional and outspoken, and he has set himself up for success with internships and the National Guard.

Molina has held many leadership positions in ROTC, including the executive officer, who takes care of staff and equipment, and a company commander, who oversees operations. He is currently the training officer, who makes sure the training is what the younger cadets need to succeed in camp. 

“I’ve enjoyed teaching and influencing the people below me,” Molina said. “I think that’s probably one of my proudest moments, is being knowledgeable enough so that people will come to me with questions, and I’m able to help them solve their problems or solve their issues within ROTC or even in school as well.”

Ian Molina participating in a color guard ceremony. Photo provided by Evan Czajka.

Through these experiences in his senior roles, Molina learned a lot about leadership by seeing the different ways people learn, take criticism and listen to orders.

“You find those differences, find those strengths and weaknesses and utilize them to the betterment of the mission,” Molina said.

Addison Cole, a fifth-year music entertainment industry major, is also in a staffed position in Bradley’s ROTC program and works closely with Molina developing lesson programs and training. 

“He’s got a very strong presence,” Cole said. “When he’s in a room, people know and not for a bad reason. He’s very personable and loves talking to people … He’s really great at making friends with every single person while maintaining that level of authority that he needs to have.”

Molina and Cole are also in the same unit in the National Guard, where they are shadowing an officer before they are commissioned. While in the National Guard, they work together on tasks, which has included writing a brief that went to the whole unit. 

Cole said the two cadets were friends before she joined ROTC, and Molina has mentored her through the program. 

“I’m really proud of how far he’s gone,” Cole said. “I know he’s going to be an excellent leader in the National Guard, so I’m very excited for him.”

Czajka explained ROTC as training the Army officers of tomorrow through teaching leadership, basic maneuvers and military history. 

Outside of the classroom, Bradley’s ROTC will also have more real-world training at the federally owned properties in Farmdale and Fondulac, where the cadets will use the trails while working with paintball weapons and “rubber ducks” that represent M-16s. 

“I think that the leadership training and development that [Molina has] received here through Army ROTC will definitely benefit him in his careers,” Czajka said. 

After his commissioning, Molina will train with the National Guard once a month and for two weeks over the summer and hopes to serve for at least 20 years. When he is not with the unit, he will be able to hold a civilian job, and his goal is to be a professor of military sciences. 

“I eventually want to come back either to Bradley or some other university and help with their ROTC program,” Molina said. “[I want to] help kids out along with their journeys and see their goals and their expectations.”

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