Joining the military can be intimidating, but Fresno State’s Air Force ROTC —detachment 35— offers students a chance to see what it’s like to be a soldier before signing a contract.
“The Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) gives students an opportunity to experience what it’s like to train and become an officer in the United States Air Force,” said Captain David Magoc, the unit admissions officer of the department of aerospace studies at Fresno State.
Students have the opportunity to become familiar with the program while completing an undergraduate or graduate degree for the first two years without signing a contract.
“Giving them the two-year trial period doesn’t give them any type of commitment so it helps them first understand what the program is about before they jump into a commitment,” Magoc said.
An officer is someone who is in charge of large groups of soldiers. Officers are leaders and guide soldiers by giving them tools needed to do their job. “I’ve done both sides, and I think I’m a better officer because I’ve done the ground work in the past,” Magoc said.
Those who decide to continue with the program after the first two years can attend field training. After attending field training, a cadet must decide to either leave or sign and continue with the last two years of the program to become an officer in the Air Force.
“I don’t just recommend the Air Force, but any ROTC program out there,” Magoc said.
He believes it is the best way to join the military because cadets can maintain a college lifestyle while being in the military and having a guaranteed job after graduating.
Those who decide the Air Force is for them are eligible to qualify for a scholarship that will pay for up to three years of tuition. Those enrolled in the program will also receive $900 annually for books and a monthly tax-free stipend of up to $500.
The ROTC program has served students in various majors for over 60 years. “Students are encouraged to enroll as many are successful in majors such as nursing, engineering, criminology, psychology, history, language and have even become astronauts,” Magoc said.
The first half of the program, general military course (GMC), allows students to try out the ROTC without obligations. During this time, cadets learn fundamental Air Force policies.
Field training is performed in an Air Force base during the summer of their sophomore and junior years. At field training, cadets do physical conditioning, learn about marksmanship and survival training, leadership studies and more.
The cadets who decide to continue with the second half of the program, known as professional officer course (POC), will sign the contract. The third and fourth years prepare them for active duty and include learning leadership skills and national defense policy.
“Those students who decided to not continue with the program will leave with better knowledge about organizational skills, responsibility, and leadership, everything anybody can utilize to be successful in the civilian world,” Magoc said.
Matthew Alldritt, wing commander in this detachment, said he likes the program because it allows students to check it out for a couple of years and leave if they are not satisfied.
He also said the most important element of joining the program is that it gives students a chance to network with future possible employers.
“My first two years before I was even contracted I was able to go speak to several schools, my networking exploded.
“I already have a colonel in my book that already has written me a recommendation letter, its real networking,” Alldritt said.
First-year cadet Kimberleigh McDermott said she has enjoyed her first year in the program and is looking forward to becoming an officer.
In the mean time, she looks forward to field training and enjoys social events the programs has for its cadets such as color guard, sky walks, Halloween parties and barbecues.
Detachment 35 has also won awards for the outstanding work cadets have accomplished academically and for doing volunteer work in the community.
For more information about Fresno State Air Force ROTC detachment 35, students can visit their website at www.csufresno.edu/afrotc.