On October 13th, Regent University hosted its 4th annual ROTC Expo, and over 218 high school students attended. This year was the first expo event since COVID shut everything down in 2020, and they were thrilled to have students from 9 different high school JROTC programs participate. After a series of briefings on Naval ROTC and the NROTC Preparatory Program, students got a campus tour and then gathered at the Library Atrium for lunch and an opportunity to speak with recruiters from all the Services. Recruiters engaged with the students through fun games like a pull-up contest and gave them information about their options after high school.
This event is important for high school students because there are some major differences between JROTC in high school and ROTC programs at the university level. JROTC’s main focus is developing good citizens, and they seek to build discipline, leadership, and respect in their cadets. JROTC is an elective offered at many high schools and there is no obligation to commit to any military service after high school.
University ROTC programs are used as a recruiting tool to identify potential candidates and train them to become qualified officers in their respective branches. It can be taken as an elective for students during the first two years of their degree programs with no obligation for commitment. However, students who are entering their junior year and wish to continue with ROTC must either sign a contract or earn a scholarship, both of which commit the student to military duty after graduation.
Leaders at the Regent Military Resource Center shared that the best way to recruit high school students is to visit high schools or host events like the Expo. They remarked meeting face-to-face with students, feeding them lunch, and building relationships with them is the most effective way to make connections.
One challenge they often face when reaching out to high school students is being limited in their interactions. Oftentimes, recruiters contact guidance counselors who then refer students considering the military. The problem is that recruiters are not just looking for students who know they want to go into the military. Many high school students do not plan to join the military or even attend college, which is why events like the ROTC Expo are great opportunities. Recruiters at the Expo discuss different pathways available to students and help them figure out what they may be interested in after graduation. They recognize that not all students want to join the military, but they want to ensure that students know their options and have the ability to choose.
Michael Hendricks, the Operations Manager for RU Military Resource Center, shared that many students may be facing challenging living situations and do not always know their next steps. Financial difficulties are often a significant issue for students, and recruiters make sure to tell students that the military will help their members financially and pay for college. Regent recruiters specifically are looking to make sure students aren’t giving up on themselves before they’ve been given a chance to prove themselves.
When asked what makes a potential recruit standout, they said their qualifications are straightforward. They want students who are fully committed to attending Regent, becoming an officer in their chosen military branch, their own success, and encouraging others toward excellence. While they encourage students to be Christians, they also recognize that not all students are. However, regardless of their religious beliefs, they look for students open to the Gospel who desire to grow in their relationships with God and others. Regent military programs take the spiritual training of their cadets seriously and require their members to participate in spiritual mentorship, which helps them form a Christ-centered worldview and answer tough questions.
This is especially important as their members prepare to go out and serve as military officers in places where Christians are not welcome. John Cordero, Associate Director of Military Affairs at Regent, spoke about his personal experiences with persecution while serving in the Marine Corps and stressed the importance of finding your identity in Christ and not in the world. He shared about the value of integrating faith into your life and highlighted the story of Joseph as a reminder. Joseph did not choose his situation, but he knew what God had promised him, so he was able to flourish by resting in that truth despite hardship.
Cordero’s advice to students is to always trust God’s plan. “If you trust in the Lord, it doesn’t matter where you’re placed because you can be fully confident that where you’re at is where God wants you.” His hope for students in the military programs at Regent is that they grow in their faith in order to weather any adversity and make a difference, no matter where they are placed.
Students interested in joining the ROTC programs at Regent or wanting to learn more about military career opportunities should reach out to Regent’s Military Resource Center at firstname.lastname@example.org.