Cadet finds life path in ROTC

Rachel Polchek

Air Force ROTC may not be for everyone, but it has a lot to offer to those who are dedicated to the program.

“The military isn’t scary; you get all spectrums of people,” senior Cadet Courtney Redman said. “It’s just an awesome experience.”

Redman knew she wanted to enlist when she was still in high school, she said. Her mom suggested she join ROTC to earn her degree while training to be an officer in the Air Force.

AFROTC is a program that trains students to be leaders. After students complete the four-year program and graduate, they become an officer.

“I love to shape the future. I love to watch it. I wouldn’t trade it for the world,” said Lt. Col. Lowell E. Bailey Jr., professor of aerospace studies.

AFROTC has scholarships for those who qualify that offer tuition and book money, along with a monthly stipend.

Freshmen who receive and accept scholarships are qualified to sign a contract. Redman said she was on scholarship her freshman year, and she was ready to sign.

Those cadets who are not on scholarship have no commitment to the Air Force until field training is complete after sophomore year.

The ROTC also offers job security to those who complete the program. As cadets near graduation, they’re required to create a wish list of jobs and locations they would like once they graduate.

Redman is graduating and will be commissioned in May.

Following graduation, Redman will go to an Air Force base in Alabama to complete a six-week air and space basic course. From there she will go to Vandenberg Air Force Base in Santa Barbara, Calif., for six months where she will train to be a space and missiles officer.

After that, Redman will be permanently stationed at one of the locations on her wish list.

The Air Force also offers a lot of opportunity for behind-the-scenes and technology-based work.

“Our numbers (of students joining) are rising because of the economy,” Bailey said.

All majors are welcome to join AFROTC. Redman is a sociology major. Engineers and nurses are always needed, Bailey said.

Bailey was part of Indiana University’s AFROTC. He was indecisive about joining until he scored well on a flight test.

“You’re gonna pay me to fly an airplane?” Bailey recalls thinking. “Cool. I’m in.”

AFROTC requires that its cadets take an ROTC course each semester. AFROTC courses are open to non-ROTC students as well.

“There’s no commitment (required) to take a class,” Bailey said.

AFROTC is also offered to students at Case Western Reserve University, Baldwin Wallace College, the University of Akron and to other students attending universities around the area, but they must travel to Kent State for the program’s activities.

“We’d like to be able to go to them, but we just don’t have the resources,” Bailey said.

Contact ROTC and alumni affairs reporter Rachel Polchek at [email protected].