Life in the Illinois Army ROTC

By Beck Diefenbach

An Illinois track and field pole vaulter begins his initial sprint while Army ROTC cadets mingle in a small corner of the Armory bleachers before the start of last Thursday’s battalion award ceremony.

With a simple podium, no multimedia presentation and no refreshments, this certainly was not an extravagant presentation. But this meant much more to the people involved than to any bystander.

Awards in the Army ROTC are given for a variety of reasons – ranging from physical fitness to academics. The awards that were presented Thursday were based on the performances of the cadets during the Fall 2006 semester.

Leadership of the entire Fighting Illini Battalion was also exchanged. Cadet Matthew Ewing was appointed Cadet Battalion Commander, taking over the responsibility of planning several training events as well as Physical Training (PT).

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“It will require a lot more time,” said Ewing. “But I have an easy semester, so I can really put all my time into being Cadet Battalion Commander.”

This award ceremony is one of many ways the ROTC faculty attempts to show what is expected of the cadets.

“This shows the cadets what the military thinks is important,” said Lt. Col. Steven Satterlee.

Awards for excellence in PT were given to both Cadet Staff Sergeants Paulina Ziminska and James Simmons, to name a few. Ziminska, senior in Engineering, believes that these awards not only benefit the receivers but the Battalion as a whole.

“Younger cadets really do look up to the older cadets,” said Ziminska. “They see that you are top of the top.”

This leadership experience inspires Ziminska, as she hopes to join the Army Corps of Engineers after she graduates. She believes the training in the Illinois ROTC program greatly improves her chances.

“I’ll be able to put this leadership on resumes,” said Ziminska, “I want to work overseas, and the Army is perfect for that because with these awards I will be more distinguished.”

Although Thursday’s awards ceremony lasted less than two hours, ROTC cadets hope to benefit from its inspiration through the rest of their careers. Follow along every Monday as the senior class of ROTC finish up their last semester and prepare for life after graduation.