Start of something good

Published 9:57 pm Friday, June 26, 2009

When Concordia’s fall semester begins, the school will have a highly anticipated program — and recruiting tool — in place for its new and returning students.

The renewal of classes will mark the school’s first time to offer an ROTC program, and no one is more excited about it than Concordia CEO, Dr. Portia Shields.

She remembered the program’s impact at Albany State University, where she served as president before coming to Concordia.

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“The students who were in ROTC were disciplined, they were the leaders, they were focused and they graduated,” said Shields. “Several students had asked me before if we had ROTC. I think it’s a good drawing card.”

The Concordia Board of Regions approved the program last fall, and the school has worked closely with Marion Military Institute since that time to develop the program. Lt. Col. Nicolas Britto, executive officer for the ROTC department at MMI, will lead the program.

“There’s a lot of leaders here,” said Britto. “It’s just a way to find them and develop them. And I think, right now, we are in the perfect position to do that.”

It is not known how many students will make up the school’s inaugural ROTC class, as registration does not begin until August.

However, more than 60 Concordia students, on campus for the school’s “Academic Boot Camp,” got a small taste of ROTC when they scaled a climbing wall on Thursday afternoon.

“We have a number of athletes here, so it’s always good when we can include something for the whole student body,” said Shields. “The whole point of this exercise was to give them something they have not done before that they could master, to demonstrate to themselves that, first, they have the courage to try something new, the willingness to engage and the strength to perform.”

Both Shields and Britto emphasized the monetary benefits the program provides to enrolling students. It can help them pay for college through full-tuition scholarships, allowances for books and fees, room and board (when applicable) and money living expenses that increase that ranges from $300-500 per month, based on time in the program.

At Concordia, scholarships pay 100 percent of resident and non-resident tuition, $600 per year for books and a monthly stipend that ranges between $300-500. Scholarship recipients are required to serve full-time in the Army four years and other cadets may serve part-time in the Army reserve or National Guard.

“The Army ROTC program at Concordia College offers the opportunity to obtain a first-class education and a commission as a second lieutenant in the best army in the world,” said Britto. “Education and military service are an essential component of the American dream.”