SHS Promotes ROTC Program for Students Interested

SHS is one of a handful of high schools in the country to actively advertise the ROTC program and offer support for students who wish to participate

Humza Qazi, Staff Reporter

Beads of sweat trickle down Mark Lozovnoy’s face, stinging his unrelenting and determined eyes as he pushes himself to complete his 5k run. After months of training and preparation, he was able to pass the first portion of his PFT (Physical Fitness Test), where he had to do as many pull-ups as he could without dropping and at least seventy crunches in less than two minutes back to back. However, Lozovnoy ’20 now finds that his arms and legs are sore and his breaths growing heavier.

Pumping his arms, Lozovnoy knows that if he is able to complete his 5k run and receive at least a Second Class PFT score for his entire testing, he will qualify as a candidate for the Marine Corps division of the ROTC program. With this reassurance surging through his body, he pushes himself to keep running, knowing that it will soon pay off.

ROTC stands for Reserve Officer Training Corps and consists of four programs in college: Army, Airforce, Navy and Marine Corps. ROTC is a preparatory program for college students who would like to commission as an officer in the United States military.

According to the U.S. Army, over 274,000 high school students serve as JROTC cadets. As a high school student, you can still prepare to enter a college ROTC program, even if you haven’t participated in JROTC.

Lozovnoy has applied for the Marine Corps option of ROTC and is one of many students at SHS that wish to participate in one of the four programs of ROTC in college. There are numerous requirements that must be fulfilled in order to even be considered for the ROTC program, including a number of academic requirements. 

“The requirements to join ROTC is different for each branch,” Lozovnoy said. “The basis for test scores is above a 23 on the ACT or above a 1000 on the SAT. There is no minimum required number for the GPA. The higher the GPA, the higher chance you have in receiving a scholarship.”

ROTC provides a balanced lifestyle for students and allows them to succeed in both the classroom and the military field. Students who wish to apply for the ROTC program will find that they are able to take advantage of both academic and physical lessons. 

“ROTC is mixed with normal academic studies,” Lozovnoy said. “The program has its military based classes and training schedules around the student’s academic day in college. There are classes that all ROTC students are required to take and there are physical fitness training sessions that do happen on and off college campuses.”

Similarly to Lozovnoy, Lieutenant Erin Rahim, an Illinois representative for Air Force ROTC, believes that ROTC provides a balanced lifestyle for college students, allowing them to become stronger academically, physically, and socially. The end goal of Air Force ROTC is to become an Air Force officer upon graduation.

“Air Force ROTC focuses on leadership and professional development,“ Rahim said. “We want our cadets to enter into active duty with knowledge on how to lead their airmen and make quick decisions under pressure. Most importantly, we are developing leaders of character. We provide opportunities for cadets to learn directly from real Air Force officers in all career fields with hands on experience.”

Perhaps one of the greatest reasons Rahim took advantage of ROTC is the fact that it gives students opportunities to experience things many students may not get the chance to do, especially for free. It is for this reason that she supports the advertisement of ROTC throughout all high schools in the country as it provides opportunities for people to connect with others and meet amazing people. 

“Opportunities like learning how to jump out of airplanes, flying across the world to study a foreign language, performing a color guard in front of the President of the United States or even flying over Washington D.C. with the 1st Helicopter Squadron with the windows completely open are all reasons to become a part of ROTC,” Rahim said. “This program is not just about completing objectives to become and Air Force officer, but it is about developing and growing relationships between lifelong friends.”


In addition, ROTC teaches life skills that are necessary for college, including time management and organization skills. She believes that because you are in college while participating in the ROTC program, you are ultimately responsible for yourself and your own actions. 


“Air Force ROTC has changed me a lot,” Rahim said. “I had to learn to step out of my comfort zone and allow myself to be heard. These skills are paramount for an Air Force officer because you are leading and being the voice for your people.”


Lieutenant Colonel Rutnarak, a professor of Military Science at both the University of Illinois in Chicago and University of Chicago, supports ROTC at SHS. As an SHS graduate, he acknowledges how much more widely advertised ROTC is now than it was when he was in college. 


“When I graduated from Stevenson, ROTC was not really publicized to its students,” Rutnarak said. “I only learned about ROTC from brochures while I was applying to college. Over time, I’ve really come to appreciate how Stevenson has become receptive to ROTC onto campus and communicating opportunities to students.”


According to Rutnarak, the first two years of ROTC are elective courses and teach leadership in a classroom setting with practical hands-on training on or near the college campus. He encourages students to stick with ROTC after their sophomore year of college.


“These upperclassmen will participate in an advanced camp during the summer between their junior and senior years of college,” Rutnarak said. “This camp is designed to test the student’s ability to lead in stressful conditions with other college students across the nation. Once the camp is completed, students will return to campus, finish their college degree and then hold the rank of Lieutenant in the Army.”


Of course, there were personal benefits that Rutnarak gained from ROTC as well. The Army paid for his graduate degree from Columbia University in 2009. He is almost positive that without Army ROTC, he would never have received the opportunity to earn his master’s degree. 


“I graduated from Stevenson in 1996, and then college in 2001 with an undergraduate degree from Roosevelt University,” Rutnarak said. “The Army paid my entire tuition and paid my salary while I was completing my graduate degree.”


Lozovnoy’s application for the ROTC program is currently being processed. He should know between December and April about his acceptance or denial from the program. He views the ROTC as an opportunity to build great leadership skills, guarantee a job after college graduation, and to meet people with similar interests.


“My inspiration came from my work in Students Helping Soldiers,” Lozovnoy said. “I saw what soldiers and veterans have done throughout their service and would like to contribute as much as they had to my country.”