Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) is a prestigious and well-respected organization on Auburn University’s campus. There are three ROTC programs of which students are involved. The Air Force branch of ROTC consists of about 150 young men and women with the desire to serve their country.
Each student involved in AFROTC had to apply for the program prior to his or her first day of college or while a current student at Auburn. Ryan Smith, a junior at Auburn and an AFROTC cadet, applied through a high school scholarship program. Once granted the scholarship, Smith was required to uphold certain physical, GPA (grade point average), and attendance standards.
“You can join ROTC with or without a scholarship, and everyone is welcome to join the program if one is willing to uphold the expectations,” said Smith.
The Air Force branch of ROTC welcomed 80 new cadets, 20 of which were on scholarship in the fall of 2010. It is important for students to realize that once they are accepted into the program and receive an invitation to the new student organization, they are required to meet certain height and weight standards. A prospective freshman cadet is not judged based on his or her high school grades; however, a prospective cadet already in college must have a certain GPA to be accepted.
ROTC is a two-phase program. Cadets are either a POC (Professional Officer Corps) or a GMC (General Military Corps). The POCs are assigned positions in the wing that carry out essential functions. The GMCs assist the POCs with their assignments in order for the AFROTC to operate smoothly.
“Being a POC cadet is like having a job on top of being a student. It’s rewarding because there are a lot of people like myself that have similar ambitions, but it’s also demanding because the cadet corps is responsible for the majority of the training of underclassmen cadets,” said Smith.
There are also Air Force officers that assist the cadets and oversee the ROTC program. Captain Thomas has been the Assistant Professor of Aerospace Studies since April of 2010. She is responsible for teaching the Foundations of Air Force class. She is also the Recruiting Flight Commander for ROTC at Auburn and is accountable for the new students—tracking their grades, fitness scores, behavior, etc.
“The Foundations of Air Force class is open to all students at Auburn, whether or not they are enrolled in ROTC. Some students who are not sure if ROTC is right for them take the class and sometimes if they enjoy it, it persuades them to enroll in the program. Others may take the class for fun or to learn more about the military, but, whatever their reason, I enjoy teaching all students the fundamentals of the Air Force,” said Captain Thomas.
If a student is interested in making a career in the military, ROTC is a great way to start. As long as a student graduates, has met all regulations, and is contracted, he or she is guaranteed a commission as an officer. Cadets must not get arrested or severely disobey the law or it will hamper their chances of becoming an Air Force officer.