ROTC combines academics and service

Students receive Reserve Officers’ Training Corps scholarships

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Each year, approximately ten New Trier seniors receive a Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) Scholarship from one of the branches of the military. These students attend a four-year university while also receiving special training for their military career.

     Colin Morris and Olivia Stensberg are two of the this year’s seniors who applied for, received, and accepted the ROTC scholarship.

     ROTC is an option that combines service with a typical college experience. Morris, who will attend University of Dayton in the fall under the Army’s ROTC program, explained that “the experience as a whole intrigues me. I feel like I can meet a lot of new people, learn a lot about leadership, and have the ability to serve.”

     For Stensberg, who will be going to Texas Christian University and participating in the Air Force’s ROTC program, it is an option other than attending a military academy.

“It wasn’t until I started applying to schools that I decided to apply for the ROTC scholarship as a backup in case I didn’t get into the [military] academies,” said Stensberg. “I’m excited to rush and go to football games just like my peers while also having the privilege of doing Air Force ROTC.”

     A commitment to the military is a big decision, but Stensberg’s mind was made up beyond doubt when she shadowed a cadet at the Naval Academy. “It was both the hardest and most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. It was that weekend that I knew the military was 100 percent what I wanted to do for the rest of my life,” recalled Stensberg.

    In contrast, Morris planned to attend a four-year college for most of his high school career. “I started thinking about it junior year, but not seriously until the winter of senior year. I wanted a normal college experience,” said Morris. “But then I learned more about ROTC and it became an opportunity I think I would regret not taking advantage of.”

    However, once the decision to pursue the scholarship or a military academy has been made, there are many additional hurdles for applicants to navigate.

Stensberg, who was attempting to keep both options open, wrote a total of 40 different essays. She also submitted applications for scholarships as well as for other universities, applied for three separate senator nominations, trained for two fitness tests, and scheduled a medical exam.

     Once the scholarships are awarded to applicants, they must attend a college that offers the special training for their respective branch, or is located near a college where they can receive the training.

     After they complete their college career, students have years of required service, often four or five minimum. ROTC students’ field of study in college often closely correlates to their role in the military, and can jumpstart a structured career.   

     “At TCU, I’m going to be majoring in computer science, so that means I will most likely be a cyber security officer,” said Stensberg. “I’m sure I will change my major as most college students do, but ideally cyber security or intelligence could lead to a job in the FBI or CIA once I complete my five years as an officer in the Air Force.”

     While a commitment to serve may sound daunting, Morris and Stensberg both see it positively.

      Morris said, “I’m looking forward to meeting new people and learning about the Army, and how I can contribute to it.”

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