By Ada Taylor
It is common knowledge that Tennessee State University has a rich history, but what many people don’t realize is that this extends to the ROTC as well. In fact, part of that history currently resides on campus in the form of “the airplane” which is on loan to TSU from the National Museum of the United States Air Force. The airplane that protrudes from the Student Center was once flown by General Lloyd “Fig” Newton. He was commissioned as a distinguished graduate through the Reserve Officer Training Corps program in 1966 and went on to become TSU’s only four-star general. Yet what is arguably even more amazing is that the ROTC program here was founded in 1919 by two of the legendary Tuskegee Airmen.
Even so, TSU’s past is not the only thing that is great, especially as it pertains to the ROTC program. As a matter of fact the program is doing so well that we partner with 16 surrounding schools, including Aquinas College, Austin Peay State University, Belmont University, David Lipscomb University, Fisk University, Meharry Medical College, Middle Tennessee State University, Nashville State Community College, Tennessee Technological University, Vanderbilt University, Volunteer State Community College, Welch College, and Western Kentucky University. When asked what typically encourages students to join, Lieutenant Colonel Presley says that it is “the desire to serve” that does it. However, that is not to say that there are no other incentives, as ROTC offers multiple competitive scholarships.
Still, it is important to note that deciding to join the military is a big decision and the Air Force realizes this. For that reason, the Reserve Officer Training Corps has a preliminary program where, for the first two years, you will take classes and participate in Physical Training (PT) as any cadet would, but you do not sign any contracts until your junior year. That program is naturally reserved for freshmen, however, there is a new 18-month program that is accepting both spring semester juniors and grad students.
Typically cadets dedicate 5 to 10 hours a week to ROTC, which is a time that includes both PT and the classroom. One class deals with Aerodynamics, while the other has to do with leadership qualities. After all, their mission is to develop the best leaders and citizens of character that are dedicated to serving in the United States Air Force! If you are interested in joining or have any further questions, their office can be found on the first floor of the student center behind Kean hall.