The Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) cadets at Fresno State wear T-shirts emblazoned with the phrase, “Leadership Excellence Today.” For these cadets such words are more than ink on fabric, it’s a motto they want to personify.
On Saturday evening, these cadets hosted a spaghetti dinner for residents of the Ronald McDonald House at the Madera Children’s Hospital. These residents include children currently undergoing treatment at Children’s Hospital and the family members who want to stay nearby.
The event was the idea of Cadet Megan Maloy, a criminology student from Northern California.
“This is a perfect way to give back because these families sacrifice so much. I may get stressed out at school over a test, but, at the end of the day, I need to realize I have my health,” Maloy said. “My family isn’t carrying a financial burden trying to pay medical bills.”
To pay for the dinner each cadet gave $10 or more. There are 45 cadets in Fresno State’s ROTC battalion. Maloy said she spent $180 of this money on the food supplies for the dinner. Not only did the cadets buy and serve the dinner, they cooked it as well. Thirty residents were served, but the cadets were sure to make enough for weekday leftovers in the house community kitchen.
The ROTC Cadet Fund matched the amount of money not used to buy food. With this, the cadets donated $600 to Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) at Madera’s Children’s.
Lt. Col. Lorenzo Rios, a professor of military science, came to Fresno State last June. He encourages the cadets to practice leadership by serving their community and university.
“They’ve got gifts. They’re at a great university that understands and practices service to the community. My challenge to them is: start providing that service,” Rios said. “Don’t just talk about it, live it.”
Rios emphasized that Maloy, and several other cadets who have organized service events, did so at their own decision. During the 2012 holiday season, the cadets organized a toy drive. The battalion currently is brainstorming other service projects.
“If they practice their art now, they refine it in the four years they’re in college, then when they’re commissioned, they give their best to their soldier,” Rios said.
As a veteran Army officer and former Marine, Rios understands that leadership is a skill to be honed and chiseled. Thus, he promotes this kind of servant-leadership.
According to Rios, community members have responded well to Fresno State ROTC’s willingness to serve. The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and a Clovis-based business donated $500 and $1,000, respectively, to the ROTC program.
The unexpected gifts will provided what Rios calls “micro-scholarship” to those cadets who do not have two, three or four-year scholarships but still serve diligently.
Danny Lee, a junior nursing student and cadet, helped prepare the spaghetti served during the dinner. Born in South Korea, he moved to Los Angeles when he was 8. His freshman year he received a 3½ year ROTC scholarship. As a future army nurse, he understands the importance of willingly serving the community.
“Because we’re a local program, we just want to help out,” Lee said.