Issue Theme

How to Take Command of the ROTC

Torbjorg “Tori” Holtestaul ’13 is this year’s cadet battalion commander for the Army ROTC Battalion based at neighboring Claremont McKenna College. In this top student role, Holtestaul, a double major in Spanish and biology, helps oversee training for new cadets at three nearby schools. Though she now loves the program, Cadet Holtestaul wasn’t exactly set on ROTC from the start. Follow her path:

1)  Grow up in Denver’s suburbia. Always dream of becoming a doctor. Work hard and get good grades. Fit in well at your 4,000-student high school. Seek out a small college with science strength to put you on the path to med school.

2)  Go visit your aunt in Southern California to check out schools. Hunker down at Barnes & Noble with your mom and pour over college guides. Like what you read about Pomona. Come to campus, dig the tour and fall in love with the place.

3)  Get in. Then get a financial reality check from your folks. Brush aside your Navy-veteran dad’s talk about looking into ROTC for the scholarships. Realize the deadline for making a final commitment to Pomona is drawing near. Finally pick up the phone and call the Claremont ROTC.

4)  Struggle at first to get in step. Feel awkward wearing your uniform on campus. Start practicing missions and battle drills. Begin to hit your stride.

5)  Get asked to attend the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation. Find a sense of satisfaction working with Columbian cadets. Go on to airborne training school. Feel terrified about having to parachute from a plane. Do it anyway.

6)  Spend junior year working closely with the cadets in your class group. Bond. Devote 30 hours per week to ROTC on top of your school work. Help to train the freshman and sophomore cadets. Get excellent marks at assessment camp held at the end of junior year.

7)  Accept the battalion commander role for your senior year. Welcome the new cadets. Help lead training in everything from navigation to first aid. As graduation nears, set your sights on medical school, residency and then becoming an Army doctor.