ROTC nursing majors strive to be above average

Katherine Colucy

Freshman nursing major Lucy Bednarz joined the ROTC program because she wants to be more than the average civilian nurse. In the future, she hopes to become an officer in the Army.

Credit: Ben Breier

In addition to the classes, labs and clinicals required of nursing majors at Kent State, some are adding the challenge of becoming officers for the Army when they graduate by joining the Army ROTC.

Freshman nursing student Lucy Bednarz said she joined the Army ROTC because she wanted the opportunity to do something different.

“When I decided to be a nurse, I knew it was very diverse, and I could go a lot of places with it,” Bednarz said. “But I didn’t want to be just your average nurse. So, I thought, if I join the Army, it will push me to be something more than just some nurse in the suburbs.”

Army ROTC Admissions Officer Maj. Joe Paydock said students in the ROTC are required to take one ROTC class each semester and attend a lab once a week.

Army ROTC Director Lt. Col. Dean Costas said that the Army ROTC instructors understand the demands of a nursing student’s schedule and try to be as accommodating as possible.

“We bend over backwards to make sure that the nursing students here do everything they need to do with the nursing school,” Costas said. “We make sure the nursing students go to every single class, lab and clinical.”

Paydock said one advantage students have as members of the ROTC is the leadership training they receive.

“This is not an in-your-face program. That’s not what we are about,” Paydock said. “I want to give students the opportunity to learn about leadership and demonstrate it. Leadership for a college graduate is important.”

Bednarz said since she has been in the Army ROTC her interest in leading others has increased.

“I want to be a leader,” Bednarz said. “I’d like to be able to make decisions and to guide a group of people. I know I can’t do that as I am right now, but it will come with the training and the education as a nurse and as an Army officer.”

Bednarz said she also enjoys the benefits of the organization and discipline she has gotten with Army ROTC training.

“It pushes you to discipline yourself so that you are striving to achieve your best in the Army, but that attitude carries over into your studies,” Bednarz said. “I find myself having the same attitude when I am trying to keep up with the guys in the morning at physical training, as when I’m trying to keep up with my nursing courses. I’m striving to do my very best in both areas. The attitude kind of permeates in all aspects of my life.”

Along with leadership training, Paydock said the Army also has an unlimited amount of scholarships, which covers tuition, books and a monthly stipend, to offer nursing students who join the Army ROTC.

Although there is an unlimited amount of scholarships available, nursing students must meet certain requirements to receive one, Paydock said. He said some of the criteria include having at least a 2.5 GPA, passing an Army physical and a physical fitness test.

Amanda Amon, sophomore nursing major who currently receives a scholarship from the Army ROTC, said she would probably still join even if she were not offered a scholarship.

“It’s made (college) more fun,” Amon said. “I’ve learned a lot about what I’ll do as a nurse in the Army.”

Bednarz said she is currently filling out applications to receive a scholarship.

“I didn’t want to be on scholarship right away because I didn’t want it to be all about the money for me,” Bednarz said. “If I was going to do this, I wanted to make sure I really wanted to. Money is never a good reason to do anything”

Paydock said the Army is offering nursing scholarships in particular because there is a shortage of nurses.

“There is such a demand for nurses nationwide and the Army is trying to get their piece of it,” Paydock said.

Costas said another advantage nursing students in the Army ROTC have is the experience they get once they are in the Army.

“According to the nursing coordinator in our brigade, Army nurses that are getting out and getting jobs after being in the Army Nurse Corps are highly marketable for their experience,” Costas said. “An Army nurse that gets out of the Army has gotten way more experience, training and education than your normal nurse after four years.”

Amon said she is not sure if she will continue a career in the Army after her first four years. She said she is considering staying in the Army and getting a masters degree.

Bednarz also said she has not made up her mind for sure yet, but is considering making the Army her lifetime career.

“I would like to climb through the ranks,” Bednarz said. “Being a woman in the Army, I think it would be really neat to see myself become a Colonel. If I am going to do it, I am going to go as far as I can. I want to take this and run with it.”

Contact ROTC reporter Katherine Colucy at [email protected].