I, of small strength, stature, and courage, have always been a little intimidated by the ROTC men and women that I see walking around campus. Uniform-clad down to their boots and backpacks, they appear ready to defend Wake Forest in the face of any attack. I think full-on camo will usually give you that impression.
And it’s not entirely a wrong one. These cadets really are preparing to defend this school and this country. After four years of PT at 6 a.m. three days a week, weekly leadership labs, and summer boot camps, they are trained and ready to take on a life in the military. And when it’s all said and done, graduating ROTC members will have signed 8-year contracts (four years active duty) with the United States Army that may lead them overseas for battle or stateside to work in critical military jobs.
But right now, even with their busy lives behind the scenes, they are also everyday students enjoying college, involved in things like fraternity or sorority life, student government, intramurals, and campus ministries. And senior cadets TJ Mallozzi and Logan Burnett will be eager to tell you that beyond the army fatigues, ROTC is first and foremost preparing them to be leaders in the real world.
TJ, who is from a small town in Florida, arrived at Wake with barely a glimpse of ROTC on his radar. He spent only one semester on campus in his first year, as he choose to travel abroad to Venice, Italy in the spring at Casa Artom. Clearly one for new experiences, TJ returned to Wake as a sophomore and decided to try out a few ROTC classes just to see if he would like it.
It didn’t take much time for TJ to realize he had found his niche, but looming over his trial-period was the fact that he would have to sign a contract by the beginning of junior year if he wanted to stay in the program. It would mean signing onto a new future and a new college experience, which is enough to scare anyone straight out of their camo.