How to accept/transfer an Army ROTC scholarship

So I’ve been watching the discussion board churn over the last couple days.  The results of the last board were released and everybody is asking how to accept their offer, and how to transfer their offer. I see a lot of sketchy, misinformed advice being given.  When I see that it usually prompts me to think blog post. Lately, before I write anything I check the Additional information tab on the application website.  Cadet Command has done a fantastic job making that the go to place for good information.  Unfortunately for some reason most applicants (and their parents) haven’t figured out how to open that link and read the information.  Being the lazy blogger I am, I’ve pulled that information out from behind the curtain.  Here’s what the Additional Information tab has to say:

Accepting the Scholarship

Those applicants selected for an Army ROTC scholarship have tasks that must be completed in order to accept their scholarship. Please understand, the act of accepting your scholarship does not obligate you to join the ROTC program, it does not commit you to military service and it does not commit the US Army to pay the scholarship. The act of accepting your scholarship merely reserves you a place should you become fully qualified and choose to contract. This creates different decision points where you will be able to choose among options or change your mind.

After you are done with this section, please see the sections on Payment of Benefits and Becoming Fully Qualified.

  1. Once you have been notified and receive you scholarship offer letter, you will have to make your first decision. The scholarship offer letter will tell you what type of scholarship you have been selected for and to which schools the offer(s) have been made.
  1. Based on when you receive you scholarship offer, you will have other decisions to make:

– Scholarship Offers made in October/November. Cadet Command understands that most schools haven’t released even their early admissions decisions at this point. Select the school you would most like to attend where you received an offer. Do not wait to find out if you’ve been admitted before you accept your scholarship because Cadet Command will likely withdraw the scholarship offer and there is no guarantee it will be reinstated. If you later receive a negative admissions decisions to the school you selected, you can request to transfer your scholarship to a school where you have been accepted. The step for requesting a transfer are below.

– Scholarship Offers made in January/February. Many schools have released early decisions but regular round admission decisions haven’t been made for most. The intent is the same for offers made in October/November above. Select the school you would most like to attend where you received an offer. Don’t let the deadline pass waiting to see if you were accepted. Reserve your scholarship and request a transfer if necessary.

– Scholarship offers made in March/April. Most schools have released their regular round admissions decisions during this time of year with April 1st being the date for many. You should have a pretty good idea what your options for where you can go to college next year. You must still return your acceptance paperwork.

  1. Based on what school you received your scholarship offer, you will have other decisions to make:

– I got an offer to my primary school. This is easy, accept the scholarship to that school.

– I didn’t get an offer to the school where I’m going. You must still select one of the schools on your offer letter because this reserves the scholarship. You can still request to transfer your scholarship to that school. That doesn’t mean you write in the school you want to attend and send that back. See the instructions for requesting to transfer your scholarship below.

– I’ve not been accepted to that school yet. Based on the admissions decisions of a particular school, you may not know if you’ve been accepted yet – that’s OK. If it’s your first choice or the only offer you received, accept the scholarship to that school. If you later receive a negative admissions decisions to the school you selected, you can request to transfer your scholarship to a school where you have been accepted.

– I didn’t get into that school. If it’s the only school where you received an offer, accept the scholarship to that school and request a transfer.

– I didn’t apply to that school. As discussed in the instructions for picking schools, it is your responsibility to apply to all of the schools you list in the application. That being said, you obviously cannot use the scholarship at a school you’ve not applied to or been accepted to. You will need to request a transfer. The step for requesting a transfer are below.

– I was wait-listed for that school. You have a couple of options. If that is the school you are most interested in attending, accept the scholarship there and wait for your admissions decision. If you get in, no further action is required. If you don’t get in, request to transfer.

– National Decision Day. May 1 is known to some as National College Decision Day, as it is often the deadline for students to make deposits to attend the college of their choice. Cadet Command will make every effort to ensure transfer decisions and scholarship offers have been made by this date. It is still your responsibility to do whatever is required by the college/university to reserve you place at that school.

  1. The letter you receive likely indicated you are not considered medically or administratively qualified yet. Please see the section on DoDMERB Medical Examinations and Becoming Fully Qualified. They will better explain what that means and what the next steps include.

Here’s the information regarding a transfer.  Read carefully, because it says exactly what I have always said.  File upload is your best bet.  Accept one of your offers, write a statement regarding why you want to transfer, and include your letter of acceptance to the school you want to transfer to. Scan and upload.

Requesting to transfer your scholarship

Please understand, while Cadet Command always tries to accommodate where you want to go to school and what you want to study, there is no guarantee your transfer will be approved.

  1. There are many reasons why a transfer may not be approved

– There are a finite number of allocations at each host program. When that program fills up, your transfer will likely be disapproved. The number of allocations by program can change from year-to-year and are based on many factors which may include: classroom size can only accommodates a certain number; mission requirements at that program; and the number of Cadre at that program. Typically, larger universities have more allocations but that’s not always true. Contact the host program Cadre for more information.

– The combination of college major and school aren’t always conducive to the ROTC training requirements. Contact the host program Cadre for more information but this usually only applies to nurses.

– Just because an ROTC Cadre member at a college says the transfer should be approved, doesn’t always mean it will. This also does not guarantee the transfer will be approved.

  1. To request a transfer, you must first accept your scholarship to one of the schools where you were originally offered. If you have already done that, submit the following documentation:

– Brief statement indicating why you want to transfer. There is not set format but please make it legible and do not write it directly on your scholarship acceptance form.

– Copy of your university acceptance letter.

– You can submit a request to transfer at the same time you accept your scholarship. Submit both sets of documents at the same time.

  1. Cadet Command accepts paperwork the same for pretty much any document you may need to send us. Pick one of them; NOT all of them. The most preferred and fastest are listed in order below:

– Upload the files individually to your File Upload tab of the application.  This is by far the fastest and easiest. If you don’t have easy access to a scanner, you can always take a picture of the form with a smart phone and upload that. Just make sure you can read it.

– Email the file to your processor directly or use the central email address. USARMY.KNOX.USACC.MBX.TRAIN2LEAD@MAIL.MIL   From there, your processor will upload the document to your File Upload tab just like how you do the same thing.

– US Postal Service or one of the commercial vendors are the least preferred because they are the slowest and require additional handling. Plus, there’s no sense in spending money when you don’t have to. From there, your processor will scan the document and then upload it to your File Upload tab.

– Only using the first method is there a reliable manner to track if Cadet Command has processed your paperwork from start to finish.

– When you upload your acceptance paperwork to the File Upload tab, the document type is “Letter of Intent and Acknowledgement.”

Have you processed my paperwork?

Once you have been awarded an Army ROTC scholarship, the most important tab in your application becomes the Selection Status tab. It can answer whether or not we have received and processed your paperwork. Here’s how:

Scholarship Acceptance

– When you submit you acceptance paperwork using the File Upload tab, there will be a yellow flag next to the Name of Document (the type of document not the actual name you gave it) and the status will indicate “Pending” in the Approved column. Once we have received your document, the status will change to “Approved.” This doesn’t mean the action you requested was approved, it only indicates the document was received, it is legible, and we understand your intent for submitting the document.

– To see if it has been processed and approved, go to the Selection Status tab. When you received your initial scholarship offer, the Selection Status tab indicated which school(s), what type of scholarship, and the acceptance status. Your scholarship status will remain as “Pending Acceptance” until Cadet Command receives and processes your acceptance paperwork. Once Cadet Command has received and processed your acceptance paperwork, the status of your selected offer will change from “Pending Acceptance” to “Offer Accepted.”  Any other school(s) you were offered will be removed from the page.

Transfer Requests

– Submit your paperwork as discussed above. The File Upload tab is the most expedient method. The approved status you see next to the document type does not indicate the request to transfer was approved, only the document was received and we are working your request.

– The Selection Status indicate the originally accepted school until we have processed and approved the transfer. Once approved, theSelection Status tab will indicate your offer has been accepted to the new school. The old school will disappear from the list.

– Some requests take longer to process depending on where you are requesting to transfer.

Hope that helps.  The sooner you make up your mind and take action, the sooner Cadet Command can make their decision and you can start planning for the Fall semester.

 

Congrats on getting that scholarship offer!!

 

The interview 2017 edition

This is an update on information I wrote about here and here

The interview

At Clarkson we like to spend some time with our interviewees. We invite them to visit our lab or tour our campus while they are here

One of the 4 requirements to get your file board ready after you start your application for the 4 year Army ROTC Scholarship is to conduct an interview with a Professor of Military Science (PMS). It is usually one of the last tasks an applicant will accomplish, because it usually involves traveling to meet with a PMS or his/her representative to conduct a face to face interview. The interview is one of the most important steps in the process because not only is it worth 200 of the points in your whole person score it is also one of the most important pieces of information the board will use to score you, if it is done right.

Here is what Cadet Command has to say about the interview, right from the additional information tab on the applications website.  If you aren’t familiar with that tab, you should be:

PMS Scholarship Interviews

 Administrative

The purpose of the Interview is for the Professor of Military Science (PMS) to have a face-to-face evaluation of the applicant.  The interview is conducted by an active PMS who will ask you questions and will answer any questions you may have about Army ROTC and the pursuit of an Army commission.

You won’t be eligible to conduct your interview until you have provided qualifying SAT/ACT scores and a copy of your high school transcript. Once you have done that, you will receive a message through the application identifying the five closest ROTC host programs to your home address. You don’t have to use these five schools but the interview needs to be conducted face-to-face.

The interview can be telephonic as a last resort, depending on distances involved. This doesn’t mean you can do a telephonic interview if you live near Washington, D.C. but want to go to school in California. Where you want to go to school doesn’t matter to the PMS conducting the interview.

Any cost incurred for transportation, food and lodging for the interview are your responsibility.

Overseas applicants must contact a stateside Professor of Military Science to arrange a virtual meeting via Skype or other similar services to conduct the interview.

 Tips

  1. Be prepared. This doesn’t mean practicing your scripted responses to standard questions; expect a good interviewer to maneuver around those types of questions. You should still be able to speak intelligibly about standard questions such as ‘tell us about yourself.’

Review your application packet again and bring along extra copies of your resume, as well. Be sure to write down a few questions for the interviewer or panel, too. The typical interview can last anywhere from 10 to 60 minutes.

  1. No flip-flops. While you may wear board shorts and a tank top to the beach or school, this is not the appropriate time to dress down. You need to demonstrate to the interviewer that you are a serious. No one expects you to go buy a business suit or fancy dress but you should take it serious. More appropriate attire includes items such as slacks and a buttoned-down collared shirt, or a knee-length skirt or a JROTC uniform. Hair should be neat and out of your face, and don’t forget to wear shoes that are in good condition.
  1. Be on time. Give yourself plenty of extra time to deal with unexpected situations, such as traffic or parking issues, to ensure you do not arrive late. You should also jot down the name of your interviewer and ask for him/her by name when you arrive. Nothing screams “unprepared” like showing up for a meeting and not remembering who you are supposed to meet. If you are running behind, please call ahead and let them know you will be late. This will give the interviewer the option of pushing back your interview or rescheduling it, if necessary. It’s never good to show up late, but it’s even worse to do so without giving fair warning.
  1. Listen, Think, Speak. It’s important to listen during your interview and not anticipate questions. Once a question has been asked, respond in a clear and concise manner. Stay on topic, don’t try to steer the question back to a practiced answer, and don’t ramble. Make eye contact and enunciate! Above all else, answer all questions honestly. Interviewers can tell when you are embellishing or making up answers to impress them.
  1. Be yourself. If selected for the scholarship, that’s what you’ll give every day anyway. Walk into your interview with confidence, smile, and be yourself. Most interviewers will keep a stoic face. Don’t let this influence your responses or behavior during the interview. Always conduct yourself professionally and as though you are the best applicant.

Here is my advice

Where should I interview?

Conduct your interview at a school you are interested in, and preferably one that is listed on your application. If it is just not feasible to get to one of the schools on your list do it at one of the schools close to your home, but be aware that the interviewer has less invested in you if you don’t plan to attend their school, and you will probably spend some of that visit hearing about the school and program you are interviewing at. If you interview at a school that is likely to be your destination that interviewer will go the extra mile to make sure you have a successful interview. Additionally if you don’t receive a scholarship offer you will still be on that PMS’s radar, and may be considered for any campus based scholarships that become available.

What will they be looking for?

Here is the checklist that the PMS will use when she/he conducts the interview. The PMS is looking at your Scholar/Athlete/Leader attributes and is awarding points based on what you tell them. Obviously you won’t be lying to pad your points, but make sure you account for all your accomplishments, and make sure you get credit. If you are short in one of the SAL areas, make sure on the back of the form the PMS can give you extra points for something else. For example, you’ve never played team sports because you have had to have a part time job throughout high school to help the family make ends meet. You won’t get points for athlete, but on the back the PMS can annotate your circumstances and give you full points for personal qualities and potential.  This is your opportunity to tell your story and make your case.

What should I wear to the interview?

Use your common sense. Suit and tie is not normally required. Collared shirt, Khakis, and nice shoes will work. It might be good to ask the person that arranges the interview what to wear. We have conducted interviews in the field before, so a suit and tie would have been inappropriate. We have also had JROTC cadets wear their uniform to the interview (nice touch, but not necessary). Just don’t show up in ripped jeans and a grubby tshirt, and you’ll be fine.

Should you bring a resume?

Again, a nice touch but not necessary. You should have submitted all the information that we need prior to the interview. I have had applicants bring resumes, transcripts, letters of recommendation, and scrap books complete with gym club card and handgun licence. Don’t need all that stuff. Again, ask because some schools might want to see a resume.

What type of questions will be asked?

Depends on the PMS. Some PMS’s may be more formal than others. Some may want to have a discussion and answer your questions. Some may want to hear what is motivating you. Some may get off on a tangent and talk about something you both have in common. You should have a short concise answer prepared to the question “tell me a bit about yourself” and you should be able to explain why you want to be an Army Officer. Take a look at this post for some ideas regarding themes you can talk about such as Army Values or Soldiers Creed. Remember that no matter how informal the conversation appears to be, you are still being watched and evaluated. If you call him dude, and spent 20 minutes discussing the best band at this year’s Warped Tour you may think you hit it out of the park, and the PMS may be checking the “no scholarship for this guy” block.

Who and where

There is some debate among my peers whether the PMS or ROO (or someone else) should conduct the interview.  My belief is that it’s called a PMS interview for a reason, and every after action review of a scholarship board I have ever seen said that the board favors a PMS interview over interviews done by surrogates like ROOs or Executive Officers.  My advice is to be wary if you are told you will be interviewed by someone other than the PMS.  Also be aware that if you are interviewing at a popular school in a densely populated area you will probably get a little different result and attitude from your interviewer than if you travel to a small, remote school (like Clarkson University) and interview with a PMS who only does a handful of interviews each year.  I would also caution about doing an interview at an Senior Military College.  Even if you think you want to attend an SMC, interviewing at an SMC is going to put you into a different pool of applicants, and your interviewer may have a different perception of what is the best candidate for a scholarship.  I’m not saying don’t interview at a popular school or an SMC.  Just be aware that the results of your interview may be effected by those environments.

Remember your manners

Yes sir, No sir or Yes Ma’am, No Ma’am will definitely score some points. Yeah, bro, and dude will loose you some points. It is also a good idea to drop the PMS a note or email after the interview thanking them for their time.

That’s my updated take on the interview. Hope it helps. Make sure you drop us a comment and let us know how it goes.

The waiting is the hardest part

Every year I get two or three incoming freshmen who contact me, saying they are interested in the program and asking questions about the commitment.  Invariably I get an email like this one I got about a week ago.

after a couple days of thinking I am going to put this on hold. After talking with my parents they said I should focus on my school work first for the first semester and If I can add more after to do so. I appreciate you getting back to me and this is something that I’m not putting aside. I read somewhere that the latest you can join is sophomore year. After the first semester I will re-evaluate and see what I can do. Thank You.

I’m not a high pressure salesman. Army ROTC is not for everyone. I usually let the prospect know we’ll be here if they change their mind, and that it’s never too late, but I think it’s time I push back a little on the idea of waiting.

A cautionary tale

The reason I’m going to push back is because of this year’s graduating class.  One of the top Cadets in the the class waited.  He had  an injury he thought would hinder his participation…despite me telling him otherwise.  He waited until the spring semester to contact me again and enroll in the class.  He was interested in one of our scholarships, and once he enrolled it became apparent he was what we were looking for.  Problem was he was a semester behind his peers and he had already missed one scholarship board.  When he finally came to a campus based scholarship board, we were pretty full on scholarships and he finally had to settle for a non scholarship contract when no more money was allocated to his year group.  Because we held out for a scholarship as long as possible he wasn’t contracted until the fall of his junior year, which means he missed out on any optional training opportunities during those years that requires a Cadet be contracted to attend.  Because of that he wasn’t as competitive during the branching process, and although he had his heart set on Infantry branch, he was assigned to the Ordinance Corps.  He will be a great Officer and will have a successful career, but waiting to give Army ROTC a try cost him.

It can’t hurt to try

There is no obligation to try Army ROTC as a freshman.  If you do find out that it takes too much of your time, or if it’s not the right fit, all you have to do is drop the course.  At Clarkson you can drop the course  just about any time during the semester with no penalty.  I would rather have a freshman try the course and drop it after a couple weeks than to have him or her contact me at the beginning of their junior year when it’s usually too late to try to get them on board.

Help, not hinder

Army ROTC is usually a support system you wouldn’t otherwise have.  We operate much like the athletic coaches, monitoring the grades and academic performance of our Cadets.  We emphasize taking advantage of student services and we expect our Cadets (especially our Cadets in the engineering programs) to take advantage of tutors.  We assign each Cadet a mentor.  That mentor is an upperclassmen, usually in the same or a similar major who can help guide the Cadet through the challenges of being a Cadet and student.  Academic success is going to be your number one priority while you are at school and we are going to remind you of that

Cadets studying together

Cadets studying together in the ERC at Clarkson.  When I want to find some Cadets I always know there will be a groups of them in the ERC.

We don’t ask for a lot of time

As a freshman in the Golden Knight Battalion we are going to ask for 6-7 hours a week from you.  An hour of class, two hours of lab, and PT Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  We are going to give you the opportunity to participate more, but if you have other priorities that is fine.  We usually have 10-15 varsity athletes in the program that are balancing school, a sport or sports, and ROTC and most of them do just fine.  We have fraternity and sorority members who are active in Greek life, we have Cadets in student government, and Cadets who work part time.  If you weren’t giving us 6-7 hours a week, those hours would be filled with something else, probably not academically related. Since PT is not mandatory for non contracted Cadets, if you are having trouble managing your time, not attending some PT sessions is an options.  As long as you are working with us, we will help you figure it out.

So, I fully understand incoming student’s (and their parent’s) concerns, but from now on I’m going to share this blog post when I get an email like the one I got last week. Nothing frustrates me more than trying to figure out how to help the latecomers get caught up, and be competitive for what they want.  Hopefully it will convince one or two it’s better to give it a try up front.

 

CULP trip – 2016 – Viet Nam – Cadet Suski

The CULP assignments for the Summer of 2017 have recently been released, so I thought it would be a good idea to publish my backlog of CULP trip reports from previous years.  Cadet Suski visited Vietnam this past Summer.  We have sent Cadets to Vietnam in the past.  Cadet Suski applied as a freshman and the opportunity to test his leadership capabilities was one of the highlights of his trip.  Here’s his report.

 

suski2.jpgWhen I applied for a CULP slot, I didn’t know what I was getting in to. I was told that if I was selected that I would be sent overseas for a laid back and relaxing trip, and that I would have experiences and make memories to last a lifetime. Arriving to Fort Knox was a shock. Everything we did was strictly regimented, far from the laid back idea that was falsely placed in my mind. Even though the days were long and hot, I was pleasantly surprised to be placed in barracks with a bunch of other cadets that I didn’t know. It pushed me to reach out and gave me the opportunity to learn from others, as every battalion across the nation brings different ideas and concepts to the table. Learning from them and my Cadre continued throughout the entire trip.  In simply making conversation with them, I learned so much about the Army, everything from common courtesies to career paths I may take in the future.

Arriving in Vietnam, my team had very little knowledge about our mission, and we were under prepared for what was ahead. It wasn’t until the third day in country that we understood the purpose of our mission. Vietnamese military doctors are preparing to deploy with United Nations forces into South Sudan. In order for them to deploy, these officers must show a competency in the English language. Our mission in Vietnam was to conduct English language classes to build relations between our nations and to aid in their progress to becoming deployable doctors for the United Nations. This is important because it will make Vietnam a valued force on the global scale. Being a part of a mission that is bigger than me is an honor and a privilege.  Just a year ago I was graduating High School, and a year later I’ve become a positive active member in the global community. Towards the end of our mission, I was given the opportunity to be our team’s Assistant Team Leader. As a freshman I had never had a taste of leadership in this capacity. It was a great developmental experience, pushing me out of my comfort zone and forcing me to make mistakes that I learned from. Opportunities that the Army offers are endless, and I look forward to all that lies ahead of me.

Another part of our mission was to learn about and have firsthand experiences with Vietnamese culture. Before this trip, when I thought of the nation Vietnam, I thought of our war with them not long ago. This country is so much more than that. They are a nationalistic society that takes pride in everything they do. The people strive to be the best that they can be, and they work very hard to develop their nation, and make their home a better place for the future. For example, many students will self-educate beyond their formal schooling. They will often come to United States universities to further their education. When their education is complete, the Vietnamese students’ usually return home. In contrast, many other foreign students from different countries will come to American universities and will stay in the United States to start a new life. The Vietnamese students return home to use their information and knowledge wealth for the benefit of their home country.

Learning from new cultures and learning how to interact with them is a huge advantage for my development as a Soldier. Working with foreign nationals and armed forces is something that I will be doing for the rest of my career. Developing these skills early on will provide me with the tools necessary for being the best that I can be, as a soldier for my nation.

suski1.jpg

CULP trip – 2016 – Gabon – Cadet Broderick

Another interesting CULP report from Cadet Broderick who spent part of his Summer in Gabon.

This summer I had the opportunity to travel to Libreville, Gabon to conduct training with the Gabonese military. I was able to obtain this opportunity by applying for a spot in the Cultural Understanding and Language Proficiency (CULP) program. Fortunately, I was picked to conduct my mission of teaching English and become more culturally diverse. Every weekday there were nine cadets conducting English classes for around 30 Gabonese military members from 0830 to 1130. We were assisted by a member of the Defense Language Institute (DLI) in how to go about instructing our lessons. Along with these regularly scheduled instructions there were times that the cadets were able to visit different schools with ages ranging from 4-24 years old collectively. Typically, the ages were on the younger side but a couple of the schools also had students that were older. The main purpose of visiting these schools was to give basic English instruction and experience the culture of the country, but a very important part of interacting with the students was to give them hope. Other activities that were conducted after our morning English lessons, besides the school visitations, were going to the American embassy and making presentations at a Department of State affiliated location called the American Corner.

gabon-team-01-culp_may-24-2016_53

The American Corner was a place where people would go that were looking to come to the United States or wanting to know more about it and learn English. Cadets prepared two presentations each, one on their university and another on a US based interest item. After presenting information on our universities it was made apparent that the Gabonese only wanted to know about how to get to the United States. A smaller group of cadets was put together to compile this information and brief it to the Gabonese who were present at the American Corner. Information on visas, exams, different universities, and the process itself was given to the Gabonese in the hopes of them taking the initiative to try their hardest and come to the US. There were also two Saturdays at the American Corner where the cadets interacted with children and a member of the Department of State in order to teach English.

gabon-team-01-culp-american-corner-_may-25-2016_7

Gabon Team 1 CULP American Corner

At the embassy, the cadets learned about the Department of State. Presentations were given by the Regional Security Officer, Defense Attaché, a nurse, a member of the Marine Security Guard, the Deputy Chief of Mission, and the Ambassador. These people gave us a wealth of knowledge and a great amount of insight into their world. We also ran a 5K with employees from the embassy for a fundraiser. The cadets were also invited to a lunch with members of the Young African Leaders Initiative from Gabon at the ambassador’s residence by the ambassador herself. There was also a barbecue that we attended held by employees from the embassy.

gabon-team-01_june-10-2016_11

Another very enlightening experience was being able to visit part of Central Accord 16 and meet other members of the United States Army that were in Gabon at the same time we were. BG Moore, Deputy Commanding General United States Army Africa/ Army, was able to sit down with us for about an hour at breakfast one morning and talk to us about his career and answer any questions we had. LTC LaMotte, 703rd Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, was able to show us around the Cooperative Security Location (CSL) in Libreville. At this location we were able to meet many different people and see exactly how a joint operation like this functions as well as talk to many 2LT’s about their careers so far and ask for any advice they may have for us.

3rdid

Traveling to Gabon to teach the military English, as well as being fully immersed in the culture of the country, was a very enlightening experience. Starting out there were some assumptions made but these were easily cleared up once in country. Getting to see the similarities and differences in the ways of life of the people of Gabon and comparing them to those of the United States provided for development which better prepared individuals to be suited in handling situations where a difference in culture can easily affect an outcome. There are a few major topics that differ between the United States and Gabon. Two of these are the concepts of time and relationships. The Gabonese do not feel any obligation to being prompt and punctual. An appointment can be made but not actually taken care until several hours later. The pace of life in Gabon is much slower as the Gabonese are looking to build relationships with others whenever they can. Laziness is another big factor that contributes to the effectiveness of the Gabonese. Many do not want to take the initiative but want the results that would come with the initiative. The most interesting part of this laziness is that many Gabonese recognize the laziness in themselves and others. This is why places with little European influence run much slower, while places that have been influenced by Europe have somewhat of a faster pace. Exchanges of money are not seen as an item for money but rather as something being given and in return receiving help in the form of money. Bartering is an example of how this applies as no set standard is made because this provides a means for building up a relationship. Another peculiar aspect of the culture of Gabon is their opinion of other Africans and the French. They tend to dislike people from other African countries besides Gabon and like the French, trying to be increasingly French. Many citizens of Gabon are getting away from their roots and forgetting their mother tongues since they are learning languages like English and French. A large amount of people would like to come to the Unites States and study as well as improve their English. Overall the people of Gabon are not that different from the population of the United States.

The window to apply for next year’s CULP missions has just opened up and I am hoping we will have plenty more adventures to share next Summer.  Still waiting on a few more reports from this past Summer.

Airborne

Mark Rosenthal, GKB alumni, class of ’78 has shared his thoughts with me in the past, and a couple weeks ago (22 August to be exact) he contacted me again with some thoughts about history, tradition, and being Airborne.  As  a basic training XO I taught the history and tradition class to new soldiers. I can certainly relate to what he had to say. I value Army history and  tradition and think it is what makes being a soldier so special.  I have also worked  in the civilian world for a company (US Steel) with a proud history that made working in the mill special. Being part of something bigger than yourself has value.

40 years ago *this month* I was experiencing my first exposure to the “real Army” attending Jump School between my Sophomore and Junior years at Clarkson.

I returned to school with “the haircut” and shiny new jump wings.

Right now I am cruising at Flight Level 380 over Montana on my way home from a consulting gig.

Under the seat in front of me is my computer bag. Proudly displayed on it is the “AA” “Airborne” patch that I wore on my sleeve in 1980-82.

During my time on active duty, I wore a lot of patches on my left sleeve.
The Artillery School
2nd Infantry Division
82nd Airborne Division
XVIII Airborne Corps
3rd Armored Division
TRADOC

but it’s the 82nd patch that I display today. But had I not attended jump school at a Clarkson cadet, I likely would have taken a different path.

It’s not about “jumping out of airplanes.” (Key point: There are *no* “perfectly good airplanes” in the Air Force). Rather, it was / is about being a part of something bigger – a tradition that extends back to 1940, and to 1944. When I was in the division, our CG, MG Malloy pointed out that nobody says “Boy, I wish we were as good as the 4th Mech.”

In some previous email, I sent a photo of my wings under a Clarkson unit crest on a black background. Those pins are on my Clarkson Ranger beret. Those wings are the ones I got at graduation, and are engraved “Aug 27, 1976” on the back – the day I got them. I carried that beret in my cargo pocket on my first jump with the 82nd as well, because, well, I wanted to connect my Clarkson Ranger experience with that one.

So… “Congratulations” to any cadets who have pinned on new jump wings over the summer. My message is this – those three weeks can change your life in subtle ways you don’t realize. Those wings aren’t a merit badge. They are a tradition.

PS – Our pilot for the flight out of BWI was also waiting for the plane this afternoon. I noticed his tie tack was a small jump wings pin. I approached him and said I liked his tie tack, and pointed to the patch on my bag. He had attended jump school as an Air Force cadet in 1979. He went on to be a transport pilot, and now flies Airbus A320’s for Delta. He never went on jump status, yet all of these years later, THAT is what he wears as a tie tack. Pretty cool.

“All The Way!”

This Summer 9 Cadets completed Air Assault training and one Cadet attended Airborne school and earned jump wings.  Clarkson Army ROTC continues the tradition of Cadets taking on the challenges offered over the summer.

 

CULP trip – 2016 – Rwanda – Cadet Sadler

When I heard Cadet Sadler was going to Rwanda the first thing that came to mind was the Rwandan genocide and we are sending a young Cadet who just finished her freshman year to “that” African country. Needless to say I was very interested to see what she had to say about her adventure, and she didn’t disappoint.

Here is what she says her mission was:

My main mission was to improve relations with the Rwandans and help the Rwandan cadets improve their conversational skills. In addition to being implanted into a platoon at the Rwandan Military Academy, my team also helped paint classrooms for an underfunded primary school. Lastly, we went on a variety of cultural field trips in order to fully understand the country and it’s unique history.

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Here are her impressions:

The Lessons of the Rwandan People

June 22nd the day that changed my life forever. I have never been out of the country before and now I was being thrown head first into not only a culture very different from ours but more importantly I was being thrown way out of my comfort zone. The main thing I remember that helped get me through the first Rwandan drill and ceremony practice was all of the smiling faces.

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In among the hitting, pushing, and yelling these random new people took me in as one of their own. In the beginning the cadets would correct me and help me understand what was going on at their own expenses. The cadets would be hit or made to do push-ups because they were not in position due to the fact that they were guiding me. The harsh way the cadre hit, punched, shoved and yelled at the cadets is a part of their culture.

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My buddy, buddy Erica told me this was normal, they grew up with physical punishments. These actions were frightening at first but the more I thought about it I understood the background behind their use. In order to command a platoon one needs to be strict and strive for perfection. Another aspect that was brought into perspective due to spending so much time with the Rwandan cadets is to always appreciate the little things. Even thou one can’t change events you can change your attitude. The cadets always had a way to make even the worst situation better with smiles on their faces.

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One of my fellow cadets and friends enjoying the Army presents I gave her.

During the early morning ruck march I got to talk to another girl in my platoon. I wasn’t really getting into the conversation because I didn’t get much sleep the night before. A few minutes later we are both laughing and joking. She had gotten even less sleep then I had and still managed to bring me out of a slump while walking miles upon miles all with a smile on her face. I will never forget that conversation. The strength to push through any obstacle is a big part of the culture. I think that is amazing because here in America people have gotten lazy and just take the easy way out or give up. In order to be a strong leader one needs to lead by example and when things get challenging be the person to pull your soldiers out of their slump. One positive action can act like a catalyst. The way Rwandans have made it their mission to forgive and grow after such an earth shattering event can’t even be explained by words. The strength and faith it takes for a person to forgive their families killer is unfathomable. The things I learned from this example the Rwandan people set is to be able to move on and have the strength to admit your mistakes and learn from them. This lesson is what I think is the most important thing a leader needs to know. Only a great leader can look back at their mistakes, learn from them, and move forward while trying to never making the same mistake again. This resilience and hindsight is essential for one to lead effectively.

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Every experience I had over in Rwanda has changed the way I think about everything I do. I will never forget the people I met over there for they have touched my heart and changed me in ways even I don’t know. I will forever remember this trip to Rwanda and more importantly I will remember the strength, selflessness, and smiles of my fellow cadets, Rwanda Military Academy Intake 06/16 B-Company Platoon 1.

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Group picture of my team and the Marines stationed at the Rwandan embassy after a group PT session