Our resident midshipmen blogger Jake Goodstein reflects on what he sees as the advantages to the ROTC experience.
I don’t have to make my rack a certain way, eat at the same dining hall every day, or attend morning quarters. And though this is a trivial and somewhat general statement, and the Academy and OCS guys may hate me for it, it is the beauty of NROTC, as I see it. While military discipline and routine are important, the lack of imposed order allows me and others in the program to gain leadership experience not only in a military atmosphere, but the civilian sector as well. In essence, the independence and self-discipline that has become inherent within the NROTC program is invaluable training to becoming officers.
This independence offers opportunities for NROTC students to be a part of campus organizations in addition to the required evolutions of the program. Personally, I joined a fraternity my freshmen year, more for the social networking than anything else. Little did I know that the organization would allow me to gain practical leadership know-how. As the Vice President of the chapter, I was responsible for the general function of the fraternity including balancing a tight budget and coordinating with fellow Greek, University, and non-profit organizations. Being a fraternity is more than just providing social events and parties to the students of the university, which is what most of the brothers focus on. Therefore, the most important lessons I learned were centered on balancing the needs and wants of the brothers with the requirements imposed on us as a fraternity.
For example, philanthropy is an essential aspect of the brotherhood and not necessarily a priority to the brothers. I knew this was something that the school and the fraternity’s Board of Advisors required. The reality, however, was that it was easy to get a good turn-out to Saturday night parties, but Sunday morning charity events were a different story. Helping the brothers understand the big picture of a well-rounded fraternity gave them more motivation to roll out of bed on Sunday. The challenges I faced as a leader in my fraternity can easily be applied to the trials faced by a junior officer in the Fleet. I know that at some point, my people would rather go home than do maintenance in our division spaces, but the reality is that, in the long run, the maintenance will contribute to the overall success of our mission.
NROTC allows future naval officers, like myself, to gain training in a flexible manner and offers vast opportunities to develop the leadership skills necessary to perform our future jobs. This is invaluable for our generation and I am personally excited to see the impact my NROTC experiences will have on my career in the future.