Iowa State University Army ROTC cadets attend English, mathematics, or history classes just like their peers. But unlike their peers, their Iowa State adventure includes powerful leadership training, military style.
In addition to rigorous university classwork, students enrolled in ISU’s Army ROTC also develop their leadership, physical ability and character. As a result, cadets transform into competent and confident commissioned officers in the United States Army.
Lindsey Hildebrand, a junior in psychology, is the Alpha Company’s first sergeant. As a first sergeant of four platoons, Hildebrand helps develop and manage platoon sergeants, as well as oversees the day-to-day operations of the company by making sure platoon sergeants carry out their responsibilities.
Hildebrand is accountable for the morale and well being of 80 people while ensuring they have the resources and quality training to become future lieutenants and leaders in the Army. She credits her development as a leader to the ROTC experience.
“There’s nothing else like it,” she said. “You make incredible bonds. It’s a team unlike any other.”
Hildebrand’s goals for the future include commissioning as an active duty Second Lieutenant in military intelligence. She will be begin this adventure by working as a Cadet Executive Officer for the Military Intelligence Company for the U.S. Army this summer. There, she will work on psychological operations and other classified tasks.
Learning to lead
Fourth platoon, third squad leader Benjamin Rurup, a junior in history, is developing new and unexpected strengths during his adventure. As squad leader, he is accountable for seven junior cadets within the program. As their primary teacher, Rurup said he is responsible for “transforming civilians into cadets in the United States Army.” This entails teaching students how to walk in uniform, what creeds and ideology they need to know, and being the first point of contact when it comes to knowing how the military works.
He admits that patience was not one of his strong suits upon entering college.
“ROTC has impacted me by pushing me outside of my comfort zone and allowing me to grow personally and professionally,” Rurup said.
Rurup has worked with the Student Activities Center’s ISU Leadership Experience, as well as the Cultural Understanding and Language Proficiency (CULP) Program. The CULP Program gives Army ROTC cadets the opportunity to travel the globe for up to three weeks, immersed in foreign cultures, in order to increase proficiency in language as well as develop more cultural awareness.
“Being abroad is something that is an amazing opportunity to build skills because culturally sound officers are needed,” he said, adding that listening to others was a skill he learned abroad, and one he believes many Americans lack. He said the ability to listen is an extremely important skill to have as an officer.
Learning to develop
Hannah Nehring joined Army ROTC with prior military experience. Her sophomore year of college she enlisted in the National Guard. Currently a junior majoring in psychology and criminal justice, she is taking advantage of the many opportunities to develop as a leader.
“[Iowa State] provides students the opportunity to become involved in anything they could possibly imagine,” she said. “While attending school at Iowa State, I have been involved with things ranging from the Honors Program to water volleyball.”
Nehring would like to apply the skills she is acquiring to a career as a physician assistant through the Army, then as a Family Practice Physician Assistant after completing her time in service. True to the Army’s goal of improvement, she started a student chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), a mental health organization, at Iowa State. She said she was driven to start the student chapter because she wanted to provide resources for students impacted by mental illness and help end the stigma that makes it difficult to talk about it.
“The diverse nature of [an Army ROTC cadet’s] education and experience at Iowa State is critical to their limitless potential to be a successful, engaged leader,” said Lieutenant Colonel Ethan Dial, Professor of Military Science.
Students love the leadership experience and camaraderie they gain through being involved in the program. It sets them up to continue choosing their adventures as proud alumni of Iowa State.