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Gen. Marcia Anderson and the importance of ROTC

Friday, August 19th, 2011

On Wednesday, Army Brig. Gen. Marcia Anderson was the focus of CNN’s “Red Chair Interview.” Gen. Anderson has been nominated for promotion to major general—a job that has as of yet never before been filled by an African-American woman. If Anderson’s promotion is successful, she will become the first.

Gen. Anderson, who first joined the Army Reserves in the late 1970s, got her first introduction to the Army during ROTC in college at Creighton University in Nebraska. As she explains it,

My decision to join the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) in college was not part of my life plan. I simply needed some science credits, and military science met the “science” requirement for liberal arts majors. It also looked a lot like gym class, which I was quite confident I could do without too much trouble. I am very glad that I was wrong about the whole thing!

ROTC is about presenting you with challenges and testing you — physically, mentally and emotionally. I jumped out of perfectly good airplanes, rappelled, solved problems and met some amazing people the 32 years I have served my country. I would not trade one minute of it!

It’s fortunate for Anderson that Creighton offered ROTC. If she had decided to go to college elsewhere—to New York City, for example—chances are she never would have been introduced to ROTC, she never would have joined the Army, and she would never become the Army’s first female, African-American major general.

We can only hope that students in New York City and elsewhere will one day be afforded the same opportunities that have served Marcia Anderson so well.