Army ROTC Program at Mississippi College Trains Future Leaders
June 25, 2014
Mississippi College students in nursing, education, law and other fields are taking advantage of opportunities to become future leaders thanks to the Army ROTC program.
There were 22 MC students enrolled in U.S. Army ROTC programs this past academic year, and at least five more are signed up for the 2014-15 school year starting in late August. There were 18 MC students enrolled two years ago, new reports show.
Army ROTC officers gave faculty and staff a progress report on the scholarship driven program at a Clinton campus luncheon on June 24.
Mississippi College joins five area institutions partnering with host Jackson State University and the Army to make the program a reality. The Army can pay a stipend of $300 to $500 per month to college students plus $1,200 for books and supplies.
Army ROTC is the nation’s largest source of merit-based college scholarships. Mississippi College is among 1,339 universities nationwide linked to Army ROTC programs.
“We take young people and convert them into soldiers,” says Rodney Hall, recruiting operations officer at Jackson State. The process takes two to four years and is well worth it for college students receiving the military training along with scholarships, says the Army National Guard retiree. “We have a $1.1 million investment in Mississippi College.”
Mississippi College leaders believe that investment is paying off.
“Nursing and the ROTC is a nice fit,” said School of Nursing Dean Mary Jean Padgett, who attended the presentation at Anderson Hall. “Nursing is a costly major and participation in ROTC provides financial aid for students who otherwise might not be able to attend a university.”
Student nurses enter the military as commissioned officers.
School of Education Don Locke also applauds the Army ROTC as a terrific way to prepare future leaders and help students meet rising college costs.
“As the son of a career military officer, I was made aware of the excellent leadership and personal management skills possessed by young people who have been trained through ROTC programs,” Locke said. “Our program at Mississippi College has enforced those beliefs.”
His father, Col. R.A. Locke, served as the former state commander of the Mississippi Military District with responsibility for ROTC programs in the 1950s and 1960s.
Heading the Army ROTC program at Mississippi College is Captain Reginald Brownlee, who brings plenty of experience to the assignment. The military science professor has served nearly 20 years in the Mississippi National Guard, with his duties including two deployments during the war in Afghanistan in 2012. Brownlee also is a leader with the Army ROTC program at Hinds Community College.
The program begins with physical training for MC freshmen and offers more advanced classes for sophomores. But Army ROTC is clearly not for everybody. The retention rate is 60 to 65 percent at Mississippi College, Brownlee said.
By the time they are Mississippi College juniors, students take ROTC classes in squad operations, land navigation, and leadership. A 31-day leader development and assessment course at Fort Knox, Kentucky is followed by military law/justice classes, counseling courses and other training courses for seniors.
Vice President for Academic Affairs Ron Howard says the Army ROTC program provides significant benefits to students.
“We as faculty and staff need to get this good word out to our students, both male and female,” Howard said. “It can mean the difference for students going to college or not.”
Photo: Rodney Hall, recruiting operations officer at Jackson State University, Captain Reginald Brownlee, leader of Mississippi College's ROTC program, and military science instructor Thomas McDonald are pictured after their presentation to MC faculty and staff.