Five graduating seniors to be commissioned after participating in ROTC
May 17, 2012 By Elizabeth Trollinger
officers after graduation due to their participation in ROTC.
From left: Mike Weaver, Bayardo Solorza, Sarah Meador,
Wes Wilhelm and Ryan Howell.
After Commencement on Sunday, May 20, the class of 2012 will graduate from Centre with memories of enjoyable classes, fun times with friends and involvement with campus clubs and activities. Five of those seniors will also be commissioned as officers of the United States armed forces after participating in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corp (ROTC).
Ryan Howell, Sarah Meador, Bayardo Solorza, Mike Weaver and Wes Wilhelm make up Centre’s largest group of graduating seniors who are members of ROTC in College history. Each of soon-to-be graduate became involved with ROTC in different ways—Solorza and Wilhelm joined immediately after high school.
“Before planning to going to college, I was going to enlist straight out of high school because I feel it's my duty to serve my country—a value instilled in me by seeing and being proud of other members of my family who had joined, including my grandfather, an uncle and many cousins,” Solorza says. “But instead of taking the enlistment route, I was influenced by my parents and JROTC instructors to get a higher education.”
Howell became interested in ROTC after attending a four-week Leader’s Training Course (LTC) at Fort Knox.
“At LTC, the soldiers under whom I was training sparked something in me,” he says. “Each soldier had a mentality, camaraderie, discipline and respect that piqued my curiosity. They possessed a drive to succeed as a team, a bond deeper than friendship and selflessness than transcended the individual.”
Weaver had the unique experience of already being in the Army when he became interested in ROTC.
“I was accepted to Centre, so I put thoughts about any military career on the backburner, but I received a call from an Army recruiter asking if I was still interested in joining. About two weeks later, I had enlisted as a private in the Army Reserves,” says Weaver. “I didn’t give my decision much thought until sophomore year, when the reality of upcoming basic training set in. So, after beginning my journey with the Army in August 2008, I finally was able to contract with the ROTC program May 2010.”
Considering that coursework and activities at Centre are already challenging, the five seniors found participating in ROTC difficult, but rewarding.
“Being in ROTC is a large time commitment, especially your junior and senior years,” Weaver says. “Aside from having physical training at 6 a.m. three days a week, you have to go to UK twice a week for class and stay until 6 or 7 p.m. on Wednesdays for leadership lab. But part of being a leader is learning how to manage time efficiently and that was definitely good practice.”
“My schedule has been very demanding, but being in Centre ROTC has been an exhilarating experience that has been well worth the ride,” he says.
The five ROTC cadets appreciate what the ROTC taught them about leadership.
“The most important thing I have gained from being in ROTC is how to lead,” Howell says. “The objective of our training thus far has been for us to realize that we are confident, competent and capable leaders in any situation.”
Each of the graduating seniors has a plan for what comes next, varying from entering the civilian work force to continuing to serve as officers.
Wilhelm will pursue a career in law enforcement; Howell will continue training at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, before assuming a position as a Medical Service Corps officer in Fort Benning, Ga.; Solorza will join the Chemical Corps and apply to Army Ranger School while working as a microbiology lab technician; and Weaver will become a platoon leader in a combat engineer unit in Macon, Ga., after taking an Engineering Basic Officer Leadership Course (BOLC) at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.
One thing they can all agree on is that ROTC benefitted them greatly at Centre and will continue to do so post-graduation.
“The Army made me a stronger individual through and through, which has endowed me with the ability to exceed in stressful environments,” Wilhelm says. “One of the best nuggets of advice I can give somebody is this: at least it's not Army training. That phrase has gotten me through many a Beau Weston paper.”
“Choosing Centre ROTC over the military academies and other military institutions was one of the greatest decisions I have ever made,” says Solorza. “I have been able to get experiences that some of my fellow cadets will never get.”
“I gained a lot of leadership training and experience in many different settings and situations,” Weaver says. “I will be able to take what I learned in this program and apply it to almost any job I may hold in the future.”
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Centre College, founded in 1819 and chosen to host its second Vice Presidential Debate in 2012, is ranked among the U.S. News top 50 national liberal arts colleges, at 42nd in the nation, and ranks 27th for best value among national liberal arts colleges. Forbes magazine ranks Centre 34th among all the nation’s colleges and universities and has named Centre in the top five among all institutions of higher education in the South for three years in a row. Centre is also ranked fourth in the nation by U.S. News for its study abroad program. For more, click here.