Military classes available to WSC students

Halleigh Hawkins, Staff Writer

Wayne State College students who are interested in a career in the military have options, thanks to the ROTC program.

Wayne State College has been partnering with The University of South Dakota’s (USD) ROTC program, which started in 1919, to provide a program to students that will help motivate and train them to become leaders within the United States Army. Students who participate in Wayne State College’s ROTC program can take courses to better themselves and learn management and leadership skills.

“I look to get citizens of character. Scholars, athletes, leaders,” said Dan Sundberg, who has been in the Army for 15 years. “I aim to develop young men and women with grit, to be able to go out in our dangerous and complex world to lead formations abroad to deter America’s adversaries, and if necessary, defeat those who threaten our vital national interests. We are building warrior leaders; men and women who can make tough decisions under duress … and win.”

These students will achieve great experience in the classroom by completing courses designed to help maintain leadership goals. These courses, which are tuition free, are titled “military science courses” and add leadership and management to the student’s career of choice. These courses are provided through USD, but a professor is provided to WSC students. Basic training is not required to be completed before taking classes and the students can even go all four years taking classes and then decide to become an ROTC officer.

“In the ROTC, you can take the first two years of our classes and there is no obligation at all,” said Sam Otto, who is the scholarship and admissions officer for the ROTC program at USD. “We have cadets, or students, that are thinking about the military and they take our class just to see if it is a good fit for them.”

Being a part of the ROTC program has lots of benefits for a variety of people. There are opportunities to compete, to attend airborne school or air assault schools, volunteer to be in the USD ROTC color guard, participate in a study abroad program, among many other choices.

“[The ROTC program] has produced over 2,200 officers, three Medal of Honor recipients, 30 Colonels, and 10 General Officers,” said Sundberg. “In 1976 we became one of the first programs to commission female officers. WSC has not had a graduate for several years, unfortunately.”

The WSC program currently has five students in the program. The professors at USD are looking to see those numbers increase in the next few years or so.

“This is a program on the upswing. We have a lot of new energy and a vision for the future,” said Sundberg. “Ranger Challenge is our yearly ‘sport’ where we compete against other ROTC programs on: land navigation, hand renegade assault course, obstacle courses, one rope bridge, marksmanship, function fitness events, etc. We had not won our Task Force championship since 1990. Last year we came in last place. This year we trained hard for this competition and went into it believing that anything was possible. After 60 hours of completion, our 9 person team won. We came in first place, [we were] champions.”

This program is an opportunity for students at WSC to learn more about leadership within the Army and decide if this could be the career path for them. Students in the class will not miss any school, there are scholarships that pay full tuition for books and fees, and a non-taxed monthly stipend that are available for the courses.