Summer task list

Whether you are a 4 year scholarship winner, or a freshman that just found out that Army ROTC is a thing if you plan to enroll in Army ROTC there are a few things you will need or should be doing over the summer (especially if you plan to join the Golden Knight Battalion).  In this post I’ll try to break it down for you all.  I’ll tell you what will be expected from a scholarship winner, and what will be expected from a student just planning to enroll and give it a try.  Keep in mind the program you plan to join may do business a little different, but the basic requirements will be the same.  You will still need to eventually become medically qualified, pass you PT test, and do some paperwork.

Medical Qualification

If you are a scholarship winner you will have been directed to start your DODMERB.  Remember that sooner is better.  You may go to the doc and the doc may tell you that everything looks good.  That doesn’t mean you are qualified.  I won’t go into too much detail regarding the DODMERB process here.  I’ve written about it before.  Just know that you need to schedule your appointments ASAP, need to be prepared to explain any issues you think may be a concern to the Army, and be prepared to react quickly if DODMERB asks for more information or additional appointments.

If you are not coming in on scholarship we will schedule you for your DODMERB once you are enrolled and showing the potential. I usually schedule the non scholarship Cadets who attend the scholarship board each semester. My SMP Cadets can provide me with their MEPS physical which we can use to get a DODMERB qualification.

Physical Fitness

If you are a 4 year scholarship winner you will have to pass your Army Physical Fitness Test before you can be contracted and start your scholarship.  Some schools will give that test to you once school starts.  At Clarkson I use the summer to give you a chance to pass the test.  We offer the test a number of times in various locations around New York.  Pass the test and you will contract on day 1, fail the test and we will allow you to come to Potsdam to try again before school starts.  You’ll also be tested in the morning on contracting day if you haven’t passed by then.  Fail that one and you won’t be signing your contract on day one.
pushups 2018
If you are non scholarship you will take the PT test at least twice a semester.  If we think you deserve to contract or be offered a campus based scholarship part of that decision will be based on you consistently passing your APFT.

Once again, sooner is better.  Starting yesterday to establish a fitness regime and being prepared to meet the fitness standards is essential.  There is nothing more disheartening than driving a couple hours to give 3 scholarship winners their first PT test and watching all three fail miserably.  I owe you all a more detailed blog post on recommendations to prepare for the test.  The short answer is do pushups, situps and run just about every day to prepare.

Paperwork

If you are joining the program there are a couple forms we will require to enroll you in the program.  These forms give us the necessary information to enter you into the Cadet Command Information Management Module (CCIMM) which is the system we use to manage Cadets and applicants.  Along with the enrollment form we will ask you to release medical information and academic information to us in the future.  There will also be a form that notifies you of your rights if you are hurt while training as a Cadet.

If you are a scholarship winner, along with the standard enrollment paperwork,  we are going to ask for a lot more paperwork. We’ll need a direct deposit form to know where to send the money, and there will be forms for tax, insurance, and security clearance purposes.  Scholarship winners will also fill out an enlistment form, and sign a contract.

Programs may have different procedures for filling out the forms.  In our case we have a couple websites where you can access the forms.  If you are just enrolling then we are going to ask you to bring the forms with you to our orientation,  If you are a scholarship winner we’ll have you mail all your forms, so they can be ready to be signed on contracting day.

That’s it

Again, some programs might ask you to buy certain gear, or suggest you buy and break in boots. Some programs might give you workout plans, or have weeks long orientations. If you are going to be a member of the Golden Knight Battalion we want you to show up in reasonable physical shape with the required paperwork, ready to start down the road to becoming an Army leader.  No need to go ninja or start studying Clausewitz or training for marathons.

 

 

 

Board Dates 2018-2019 scholarship boards

Here they are, the dates for this fall/winter’s board dates. If you are applying for a four year high school Army ROTC scholarship that will start in the fall of 2019, that would be a high school senior in the fall of 2018, graduating in the spring of 2019, these are the dates you should pay attention to.

4-year High School Application Opens for SY 18-19 12-Jun-18
1st High School Selection Board Deadline for Documents 1-Oct-18
1st High School Selection Board 15-Oct-18
2nd High School Selection Board Deadline for Documents 1-Jan-19
2nd High School Selection Board 7-Jan-19
4-Year High School Application Deadline for SY 18-19 4-Feb-19
Final HS Selection Board Deadline for Docs — Missing Items 1-Mar-19
Final (3rd) High School Selection Board  18-Mar-19

Same advice as last year…You should complete your application before the board that makes you the most competitive.  I would recommend you try to get in on one of the first two boards.  Waiting till the deadline and being seen by just one board is rarely the best course of action.  If you have a strong file you should be shooting to have your file complete by 1 October and reviewed by the first board.

Look at SAT/ACT dates. If you don’t do so well the first time you can take those tests again. Your second shot is usually some time shortly after the October board, so you should be shooting for the second board and submitting improved scores if your file isn’t strong. Here’s where you can get some free help with those tests, use it.

If you wait until the second or third board your chances are diminished because there will obviously be less allocations available after each board but don’t rush to be on the first board if you aren’t ready.  I would tell you that you shouldn’t wait to be able to do one or two more push ups on the PFT, but if your SAT/ACT is low retake and wait for the next board.

As you go through the process make sure you read about all the components (this blog is a good source of information, if I do say so myself) and stay in touch with at least one of the recruiting officers at one of the schools on your list. Notice I said recruiting Officer, and not recruiter…there is still a difference.

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.

Not a CULP trip – 2017 – Guatemala – Cadet Lieber

This one is kind of a long one, but it’s a good one.  So not every Cadet gets to do some cool Army training each summer.  Until a Cadet is contracted they aren’t eligible for things like CULP and Air Assault school.  Cadet Lieber is a three year scholarship winner, so the Summer after his freshman year he still wasn’t contracted.  Along with helping me, as a junior counselor at New York Boy’s State he also did some incredible work in Central America. Here’s his story about his adventure.

Climbing up a steep winding mountain trail, we took turns carrying a wheel chair and getting sips of water to keep us going in the heat of the Guatemalan jungle. As we came out over a vista between the dense walls of vegetation I looked out over the ever expanding green oasis that ebbed and flowed beneath us. I started thinking about how the family we were going to see got to be in the midst of this every single day. Then my thoughts shifted to the mother carrying her son on her back up this trail with his spastic flailing that was surprisingly strong. We kept pushing up until we reached their small home on the top of the mountain. It was a very rugged combination of concrete, tin roofing and whatever scraps were lying around. As we stepped on the porch, there was Carlitos and his mother waiting for us to arrive.

Lieber 1

Darlene, the first patient to receive a made in Guatemala stander, was not expected to be able to stand or walk. Two years after beginning using our stander this is her standing next to her now unnecessary standing frame with her mother and part of our 2017 team.

Rewind a few months and I was a 17 year old high school student who hadn’t been out the U.S. before and certainly didn’t know anything about treating cerebral palsy(CP). One day my engineering teacher gave me a number and told me to call it so I did and Scott Mitchell was on the other end. Scott was a biomedical engineering student at Dartmouth University and had designed something that was about to change thousands of lives. He had designed a pediatric standing frame for a school project aimed towards providing physical therapy to children with debilitating diseases. The primary one in mind was CP, which affects 1 out of every 1,000 kids globally to the point where they are unable to walk or control most of their muscle functions. In developed countries there are lots of amenities and safety nets that help to not only prevent CP, but also treat it when it occurs. Standing frames are the most common physical therapy treatment for CP. These “standers” as we call them are devices that provide support to the patient by some arrangement of straps and a frame that allow the child to stand upright and bear their own weight, a near impossible task for many patients. As simple as this may sound a stander on the market today can cost in the range of $8,000 not to mention the cost of a session with physical therapists that you should have multiple times a week. If a part on one of these standers breaks, they could be rendered useless or at least dangerous until it’s replaced, which could quite well be never in many rural developing countries. Scott’s design had all of this in mind. Our stander was made from universally available hardware store materials, is extremely simple to use and repair and costs only $50 to produce.

Lieber 2

Our 2015 teams visits a patient in their home in rural Guatemala.

In the summer of 2015 I joined Scott on his approximately two month maiden voyage of the non-profit organization called Stand With Me, now the official name of our group aimed at getting these standers out in the world. Our mission was to travel through Central and South America to check on patients who had received standers already and establish a shop that could produce them in country and get them where they needed to go. When we arrived in Xenacoj, Guatemala we stayed in a small compound next to where our shop was to be established. We were piggy backing of Hope Haven and using part of their facility where they had an established shop similar to ours building wheel chairs. I worked with most of the workers there to make the various jigs and parts that were needed to streamline the construction of our standers and it was an incredible experience to get to work with people who were so different from me. I loved talking to them about their different cultures and learning Spanish in a massive trial by fire brought plenty of laughs. Many of them are in wheel chairs themselves and they took no mercy on the gringos during the lunch break wheel chair basketball games. Within a week or two we had what was a mostly finalized shop other than the changes that would come as we refined the process. The worker that we were hiring to be in our shop once we left was named Kevin and we taught him all that we could about our standing frames and how to make him so by the time we finished the shop our first few standing frames had already been made as practice.

The next phase was to get out and check on our patients who had already received standing frames when they were sent down. This is when the trip really began to get personal. No longer was this just another wood working project, we were seeing the faces and hearing the words of the people we were helping. For many of them we traveled hours by car and walked down trails to find their homes situated in their own corner of the world. We were living out of our van for a couple weeks to see as many as we could. Sometimes all their home would be is a series of wood posts or branches supporting a corrugated roof with cloth dividers for rooms and when we walked in the first thing every family did was offer us a drink or meal. This was more than humbling. If these people had nothing, they would still offer it to us because that’s the way their culture is. I learned a lot in every sense of the word by visiting our patients.

Lieber 3

Part of our 2017 team pulling a late night to test design improvements on our standing frame.

One of our patients, Edison, and his family were Mayan and not only did they speak a Mayan dialect rather than Spanish, but they had a totally separate frame of mind than us. They believed that Edison’s ailments were due to witchcraft gone wrong and that prayers and more witchcraft were the only ways to make him better. This was a first for me. I knew these cultures still existed, but interacting with them was unchartered territory for me. After speaking with them for a while they agreed to try our stander since their methods hadn’t been working. We saw a handful more families many of whom praised us as angels who saved them and their child because since using our stander their child started to be able to feed themselves or focus on an object or even walk a little with their mom’s support. I didn’t think I could be anyone’s hero at 17 years old and I still didn’t really feel like I was, but what we were doing was making a world of difference in the lives of our patients and there families.

This past summer I returned to Guatemala and got to see the entire process after two years of functioning. The standers had changed some, the construction process and distribution was being revised and most importantly many of our patients were getting better. We now have over 600 standing frames with patients in 8 countries on 4 continents and have plans to put a shop and distribution center in the western hemisphere in the near future to increase our production. Getting to take part in this was not only emotionally fulfilling, but I was able to learn a lot that I can apply to my role as an army officer. Starting an organization where our primary area of operation is in a foreign country speaking a foreign language and our responsibility includes organizing efforts on the other side of the world taught me a lot about organizational leadership. We spent a lot of time planning and then during our trip changes had to be made and accounted for constantly due to things like cultural differences, different resources being available in U.S. that weren’t there and timing of different phases. Getting this opportunity to go into a real world situation and make a difference from the time that I was 17 to now and knowing that what I and the rest of this team did is going to have impacts on people’s live years from now is extremely fulfilling. I proved to myself that I am capable of creating change and doing good and I think that is going to carry over into not only my Army career, but the rest of my life.

For more info on Stand With Me and our efforts check out www.Standwithme.org!

We expect Cadet Lieber to have more amazing stories after this summer…stay tuned.

No scholarship…what are my options

So you are an incoming freshman, you either applied for a scholarship and didn’t get an offer or you didn’t apply.  Army ROTC is still something you can do, you can still complete the program and commission, and you may even still be able to receive a scholarship offer.

recruiting table at the Clarkson activities fair

Have I got a deal for you

First a couple caveats…

  • every ROTC Battalion does things a little differently. When you are reading my blog I am usually telling you how we do things at Clarkson, in the Golden Knight Battalion.
  • Each year is different.  Some years we have more scholarships than we do Cadets, and some years we only get a few scholarships.
  • I don’t usually operate on any type of quotas…even when higher says I am supposed to.  I will always try to get the best options for each Cadet.  I’ve found over the years that the outcomes will balance out in the end and most Cadets in my program are fairly happy with where they end up.

So, if you are starting out as a freshman, or even a sophomore in the fall semester the first step is to enroll in the class.  Some programs may consider you for a scholarship, but in my case, unless you have at least committed to enrolling I’m not going to consider you for anything more than enrollment. If I do have the opportunity to provide additional scholarship offers, I’m going to go to my list of incoming students that have asked to be in the class.

One important thing to remember which new Cadets often fail to understand is that without a scholarship you can’t even contract until your sophomore year, so I am in no hurry and can’t really do anything with you other than get you ready/fully qualified, and have you take the steps to be considered for a scholarship.  If you are participating fully, passing your PT tests, take care of your DODMERB, and maintain your GPA then we are on track to give you some options.

We hold a scholarship board each semester.  Appear before a board and you get on the Order of Merit List (OML).  Once you are on that list I will be working to get as many of the Cadets on the list an offer.  At some point higher will tell me there won’t be any more offers and that is when we talk about other options like SMP or non scholarship contracts.

My advice is always not to worry about what you can’t control.  You or I can’t control how much money and how many scholarships will be offered.  You can’t control what the other Cadets will bring to the table.  What you can control is your fitness level, your work ethic in the class room, and your level of motivation and participation. If you want to serve your country as an Army Officer and earn a 4 year degree chances are good we’ll figure out a pretty good way to allow you to do that.  And like everything in the Army, it may not be the same way you thought you were going to do something, but in the end we’ll accomplish the mission.

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.