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ROTC Returns to CUNY

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

As we noted in December, ROTC is making a comeback at the City University of New York (CUNY) school system. York College is the first of the system’s colleges to welcome ROTC back after its 40-year hiatus, but programs are currently planned for other CUNY campuses at Medgar Evers College, the City College of New York, and the College of Staten Island.

The New York Daily News has more:

The 24-credit military science track was announced Thursday at the Jamaica [Queens] school.

“There’s a [very] diverse group of students here at York,” said Col. Twala Mathis, who oversees ROTC programs in the Northeast. “Diversity really enriches the Army and it represents what America is really about.”

The program, which actually began in the fall of 2012, is an effort to diversify the military’s officer ranks, ROTC officials said. The vast majority of the students at the school are minorities and many also come from low-income homes.

Students who complete the program enter the armed forces as officers with the same rank as graduates of elite military schools such as West Point, officials said.

“We want to target students that live in the inner city,” said Lt. Col. Juan Howie, who runs the York College ROTC program. […]

The programs involve leadership, map-reading and problem-solving training — as well as a grueling dose of physical fitness.

“It builds confidence for the students,” Howie said. “They get in shape as well.”

Freshman Rose Lee, 18, of Great Neck, L.I., said she enjoys the fitness sessions, which start at 6 a.m. three times a week and involve a brutal routine of running and push-ups.

“It’s hard getting out of bed at first,” said Lee, who turned down West Point to attend York College. But once she sees all the other cadets, “I get motivated and excited.”

“Since I was in the second grade, I knew I wanted to be an officer in the U.S. Army,” said Lee, whose father and grandfather served in the military in Taiwan.

Nursing major Jerome Ian Tabaosares, 20, of Jamaica, said the ROTC is a step toward joining the U.S. Army Nurses Corps.

The junior said he thought he could swim until he was pushed into a pool with a fake rifle in one arm and two canteens and a rucksack on his back and ordered to swim 20 meters. He didn’t make it.

“If you’re given something easy, there’s no fun in it,” he said. “I’d rather work my bum off and know that I achieved something far greater.”

 Related: Program on American Citizenship report, Underserved: A Case Study of ROTC in New York City