Leaders with backpacks: ROTC members stand out at UMass Lowell

Robert Shaffer
Connector Contributor

To nonmember students, the uniformed cadets of UMass Lowell’s ROTC program stand apart on campus thanks to their noticeable composure, helpfulness and poise. While ROTC leadership said they keep a humble view of the program’s stature and activities, UMass Lowell nonmember students see cadets as a notable part of campus life.

Open to any UMass Lowell student, the Reserve Officer’s Training Corps (ROTC) allows students to get a glimpse of what is needed and can be expected in pursuing a military career. Based out of Mahoney Hall, the Army and the Air Force both have ROTC branches on campus.

The ROTC is an elective program that complements a student’s traditional college degree. The program’s selection of classes and training is designed to give cadets the knowledge needed to become successful Army or Air Force officers, said Army ROTC Military Science Instructor Scott Wallace. Wallace is one of three instructors from whom Army cadets learn.

Upon completion of the four-year ROTC program and receiving a college degree, cadets become officers in their respective military branches. Although the ROTC is primarily aimed at students who have an interest in becoming career military officers, they accept students of any major and any year, Wallace said.

Just as a four-year degree is divided into the freshman, sophomore, junior and senior years, the ROTC is broken down into Military Science years: MSI, MSII, MSIII and MSIV. Students do not have to commit to future military service until after they complete the MSII year, Wallace, who is the military science instructor for Army ROTC MSII cadets, said.

While academic in nature, the ROTC gives cadets the lessons and insights that are necessary in leading a successful military and civilian life. Wallace said the ROTC is, “a way for students to see what right looks like. It’s a leadership course.”

To students who are not in the ROTC, the leadership of cadets stands out among the UMass Lowell population. Nicholles Klevisha, an English major in his senior year, said that uniformed ROTC students project a sense of reserve and calm stronger than that of students not in the program.

Walking around South Campus, Klevisha said he has seen cadets drilling in practice for various military tasks. “I find it fascinating,” he said. “Intrigue is the overall feeling.”

Students have also taken note of how outgoing and helpful cadets are. “They are pretty nice dudes,” said junior William Dansereau, a criminal justice major.

Through experiences with ROTC members at Marshall University and UMass Lowell, Dansereau said that he has found cadets to be eager to lend a hand to others. “They will always give you a response to a question,” Dansereau said.

The interested, respectful reaction of students is something Wallace said he and others in the ROTC acknowledge and appreciate. Wallace said that the UMass Lowell campus is a welcoming place for cadets and there is no trouble or friction to be found. “If even anything, we’re ignored,” he said in jest.

Paige Maguire, a junior at UML, said she has seen first-hand the high level of conduct ROTC cadets are known for.

Maguire said she had considered joining the ROTC when she was an underclassman. “I have a few friends in the program,” she said. “There’s a lot you can do with it.”

Maguire once saw a cadet salute one of her friends due to differences in rank. She said she was impressed by the level of respect and commitment that existed between the two cadets, though they were of the same age.

Wallace said the ideal ROTC candidates are those who can be described using the abbreviation S.A.L.: student, athlete, leader. According to student responses, the cadets that fit this abbreviation are a unique and special part of the UMass Lowell community. “It’s a reputable group,” Maguire said.


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