Unlike most students, those in the Reserve Officer Training Corps at the University of Mississippi aren’t faced with uncertainty about their futures after graduation.
“Once I graduate, I will have a four-year commitment to the Air Force,” Sara Stevens, one of UM’s graduating ROTC students, said.
“I’m going to be an intelligence officer. I’ll start off with six months of training in Texas at my first base, and from there I can go just about anywhere in the world.”
Although ROTC graduates that get their commissions as officers often have more training to look forward to, they usually have jobs waiting on them. ROTC students tend to think about making the military a full career rather than just a tour of duty.
“I think I’m going to make a career out of it,” Tory Wilson, 2010 UM ROTC graduate, said. “Since I’m going to be going to flight school, there’s like a 10- year commitment anyway. So I’ll be halfway to retirement.”
Not all cadets in the ROTC will go on to receive their commissions as an officer in the military. Whether or not they get commissions, ROTC graduates, just like other college graduates, said they would look back on their college memories fondly.
“All of them I am going to have are of freshman year,” Wilson said. “My friends from freshman year had a huge impact and there are just so many stories of those guys.”
Stevens said he would also remember college life while on active duty.
“In conjunction with ROTC, probably one of my biggest and best memories is doing the Air Force Day football game,” Stevens said.
“And we have all the cadets down on the field with 60,000 fans and the jets come screaming over. It’s just a really humbling moment to realize that you’re out there serving your country and also representing your school.”
By graduation, ROTC cadets already know where they will be stationed. They will be trained more directly for their specific job in the military once they get to their duty stations, whether it’s learning to fly, learning to fight or how to work in the intelligence field. ROTC cadets are not just given a base to report to without input.
“Most cadets submit their base preferences at the end of their junior year,” Capt. Gross said, Commandant of Cadets of the UM Air Force ROTC program. “However, some of the cadets going through longer technical training, which include pilots and Intel officers, get their follow-on assignments as they get closer to graduating from tech school.”
After submitting their base preferences cadets find out where they are actually going early in their senior year.