Winona State students talk ROTC experience

Sophia Sailer, news reporter

Winona State University offers a Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) elective for students considering service in the military, along with the possibility for scholarships and tuition cost coverage.
For students who become Army Leaders, ROTC offers scholarships and full tuition coverage and guarantees job placement for contracted cadets who complete the program.
Eric Jones, the United States Army Cadet Command, said students can take ROTC as an elective to “test drive” or try out the military experience.
Liz Perry, a Winona State student from the ROTC program, talked about what programs are currently available for incoming students.
“Cadets have the chance to attend schools like Air Borne, Air Assault and Mountain Warfare. Additionally, they also have access to a new Army program called Project Global Officer, which seeks to create Officers who are fluent in critical foreign languages with an in-depth understanding of that culture,” Perry said.
Perry also explained how the program gives cadets learning tactics, such as leadership, management, analytical and interpersonal skills that apply equally to both the military and civilian worlds.
Christiana Hoyt, a second-year chemistry major, talked about her experience in the ROTC program.
Hoyt is the First Sergeant (1SG) of Bravo Company (B Co).
“It [ROTC] completely surpassed my expectations. It was a great thing for me personally as I was on sports teams all my life and I really missed the connections between my teammates, but I was able to find it in ROTC,” Hoyt said.
While Hoyt originally chose to enroll in the program because of the scholarship and further financial opportunities, she also said ROTC has become a second family.
Hoyt also said her best friends are people she met through ROTC.
“I originally considered ROTC in my junior year of high school as a possible way to pay for college, but never actually went through with the scholarship application. Then, in my freshman year of college, there was a club fair where I met some amazing cadets and I decided to give ROTC a shot and haven’t regretted my decision since,” Hoyt said.
Since COVID-19, programs, businesses, schooling and life in general has had to change and adapt to new safety protocols and guidelines.
“In the beginning [of COVID], we had virtual labs as well as workouts, so we were not at risk of spreading it to each other. As regulations relaxed, we started to meet in person and used masks and social distancing to keep our cadets safe while still being able to be all together again to increase the quality of learning,” Hoyt said.
Hoyt also said she helps her fellow cadets with mental health struggles and in gaining and maintaining comradery despite COVID.
“Some things that I have had to focus on are ensuring lines of communication are still present between cadets, doing mental health check ins with our cadets and tracking information to ensure everyone still performs up to standard, even when online learning,” Hoyt said. “This is an amazing group of individuals and it would be great if more people joined and got exposed to everything our program has to offer.”