ROTC students balance busy lives while remaining committed to military obligation
While most all college students face the difficult task of balancing school, work and activities, students involved in New Mexico State University's ROTC program also take on the challenge of preparing to serve their country while pursing their academic goals.
While most other students are still dreaming, cadets in NMSU's Army ROTC program begin their day at 6 a.m. with physical fitness training.
"It's hard to keep going when your mind is telling you to keep going but your body tells you to stop," junior Joan Ferguson said.
Coming from a military family, Ferguson is the first female in her immediate family to continue the tradition. Majoring in special education and social studies education, Ferguson has participated in ROTC events including the Bataan Memorial Death March and Ranger Challenge. She also works with the NMSU Police Department assisting with special event planning.
As this year's recipient of the prestigious Command Sergeant Major Michael Jefferson Scholarship Award, Ferguson will travel to Fort Lewis this summer to participate in the annual Cadet Command Leadership Development and Assessment Course (LDAC).
"I really appreciate the opportunities I've had with ROTC," Ferguson said. "It really got me into shape both physically and mentally."
Emily Juchniewicz is another junior who will be attending LDAC in Fort Lewis this summer. Juchniewicz's mother is Navajo and her father is from Poland. She will be the first in her family to graduate from college and become an Army officer. She is studying community health at NMSU.
"ROTC is tough," Juchniewicz said. "There is always so much going on but it really disciplines you in time management. Joining ROTC just kind of happened and I'm so glad it did."
Juchniewicz plans to continue her military career as a nutritionist in Army prevention programs and hopes to one day return to her Navajo community to educate tribal members on how to improve their heath.
Civil engineering major Daniel Robillard left his Broadway career in New York City as an audio engineer when he and his wife decided to raise their son in New Mexico. Now finishing his third semester, Robillard says it hasn't been easy to keep everything running smoothly.
"Time is a big enemy," Robillard said. "Between homework, ROTC and making time for family every day, it's tough, but reaching your goal in the end makes it all worth it. Joining the Army was something I always thought about doing. ROTC has helped pay for school and provided me with something unlike anything I've done before."
After serving on active duty with the Rangers and the National Guard for eight-and-a-half years, and completing five deployments overseas, junior Wesley Wayne Mallery found his opportunity to go to college through the Army ROTC program.
Enlisting right out of high school, Mallery said that upon completing nearly a decade of service, he considered all of his options with his wife and three sons in mind.
"I had always intended on going to college, but during my time on active duty it was never an option," Mallery said. "I wanted to make sure no matter what I did I had time to spend with my family. ROTC was a good match."
Mallery began school in the summer of 2008 and is majoring in psychology. In addition to his many responsibilities, Mallery started his own business, clearing brush from commercial lots.
"I've really learned to manage my time more efficiently," Mallery said. "It is very difficult and a continuous struggle, but I'm grateful for the opportunities I've been given."
Written by Donyelle Kesler.