Despite her time serving in the military, Theresa Wenzel never expected what she experienced during a recent visit to Fort Knox, Kentucky.
Wenzel, instructional associate professor in the physical education and activity program, was invited to serve as a Center of Influence (COI) at this summer’s Army ROTC Cadet Summer Training Leadership Symposium. The symposium advances leadership skills and attributes, critical thinking and adaptability by enabling cadets to further train and exercise those skills and attributes in a complex environment with their peers.
All cadets attend the Cadet Leadership Course at Fort Knox during the summer before their final year of college. After graduation, the cadets are commissioned as US Army Second Lieutenants. Five cadets were chosen to interact with COIs at the symposium to talk about why they were involved in ROTC.
“The cadets’ responses were educational and positive, inspiring us with the bright future of ROTC. We were able to gain an understanding of what it really takes to be a ROTC cadet. We were able to relate to cadets and put a face to ROTC, seeing that cadets are simply college students navigating both military and college life.”
The COIs, including Wenzel, got to experience many of the activities the cadets participate in during their leadership course, including zip lining, scaling rock walls and rappelling down walls.
“All these events induce physical and emotional stresses and working through them instills confidence. This is done as a team. Most of what the cadets go through, whether it is physical or emotional, is done as a team and many times takes great sacrifice. In that sacrifice is where character is revealed.”
Wenzel was in the Army for 10 years. She served as a lab technician while also competing in several military competitions around the world. Her military journey did not begin in college with the ROTC, so she believes the experience at Fort Knox will help her connect with her ROTC students.
“It gave me an opportunity to better understand what the cadets go through from an educator’s perspective. I got to see firsthand all the responsibilities the cadets have and the standards they are held to, not only in training but in the respective ROTC programs.”
Army ROTC History
Since it was formally organized in 1916, more than half a million men and women have become Army officers through the Army ROTC program. More than 36,000 students are currently enrolled in the college-level Army ROTC program.
Army ROTC provides leadership and management training with cadets’ academic studies. The curriculum provides students the necessary foundation to serve successfully in positions of responsibility in the Army or the corporate world. Students enrolled in ROTC become part of a university’s ROTC family, surrounded by a formal support network and personal mentorship.
Army ROTC at Texas A&M is one of the best in the nation. A&M cadets consistently perform well above the national average in every aspect of ROTC military training. In April, A&M cadets won the ROTC Cup in the Sandhurst Competition at West Point.