JSU ROTC Offers Opportunity for Aspiring Leaders


The ROTC program, or Reserve Officers Training Corps, has been a part of JSU’s history since 1948. In that time, the ROTC program has helped build a countless number of leaders.

There are many benefits to joining the ROTC program, particularly for students who could use a little help with college expenses. There are three-year scholarships open to students meeting the minimum requirements of a 2.5 grade point average and an ACT composite score of 19. There are many other scholarships offered in the ROTC program; most of them pay full tuition and include a monthly spending allowance of $300 to $500, depending on the recipient’s academic year.

Cadet Joshua Blumenschein is a senior marketing major at Jacksonville State University. The ROTC program was able to make his education more affordable. “They helped me pay for school my freshman year when I first got in and I was struggling just a bit,” said Cadet Blumenschein. 

Another benefit to joining is the confidence gained while in the program. Cadet Chelsea Williams is a senior business management major at JSU. “I was a very quiet and timid person before I entered the program. They really helped me learn to speak up for myself and be more comfortable speaking in front of people,” said Cadet Williams.

Cadet Blumenschein feels as if the ROTC program has made him a better person. “I got in the program and I was really loud. They helped me calm down a bit and smooth things over. They helped me be able to communicate with people on an efficient level,” said Cadet Blumenschein.

There are many myths surrounding the ROTC program at JSU. The largest myth is that if you take ROTC classes, you will be signing up for the army. Captain Matt Sawdy teaches the MS3 (junior class). “You’re not signing up for the Army when you register for ROTC classes. You can’t actually sign up for the Army until your sophomore year, when you are fully aware of what you are doing,” said Captain Sawdy. 

Students are able to take military classes their freshman and sophomore years to see if the ROTC program is for them. “If you decide after a semester or two that the military isn’t for you, you still have these skills that will aid you in finding a job,” said Captain Sawdy.

 The main military class that freshman can take is “Challenges in Leadership.” This class will help students determine if Army ROTC is right for them and also counts as an elective for most majors.

Although students do not have to try ROTC their first semester, those in the program highly recommend it. Cadet Williams said, “I didn’t start the program until spring of my freshman year just because I didn’t know about it. I wish I had started sooner.”

The ROTC program is perfect for a freshman looking to fit in. “You will make tons of friends and you won’t even have to try. People will come up to you and be your friend without you even trying,” said Cadet Blumenschein.

There are a lot of different activities available in the ROTC program. Cadets can join color guard, the push up team, and the Ranger Challenge team. The color guard presents the flag at public events such as Veterans Day observances, military funerals and football games. The push up team attends the JSU football games and goes on the field when we score to do push ups.

The Ranger Challenge team is ROTC’s athletic team. They prepare throughout the year and compete with all of the schools in the region. The region includes Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida and Puerto Rico. JSU competes with schools like Auburn University, Florida State University, the University of Florida, and the University of Puerto Rico. Last year at Florida State, JSU placed tenth out of fifty-two teams and returned home with the Seminole Spirit Stick.

ROTC students are involved with many different organizations on campus. A lot of the cadets are in the Marching Southerners, fraternity and sorority life, and many other organizations. “We don’t expect you to give up all of that when you join ROTC,” said Cadet Williams. 

“The thing about coming into our program is that you just have to come in with some drive. As long as you come in with some drive we will help shape you to be successful in our program,” said Captain Sawdy.

For more information about the ROTC program at Jacksonville State University please contact Mr. Dean Shackelford- Recruiting/Admissions Officer, at (256) 782-5601, email rotc@jsu.edu, or visit www.jsu.edu/rotc.

Photo: JSU ROTC cadets practice water crossing skills. (Matt Reynolds/JSU)