Students choose military path after high school



Bertina Xue ’17 is involved in the ROTC program at Ohio State University, which lets her combine her goals of attending college and being involved in the military.

Lauren Liang, Staff Writer

“Honor, courage, commitment.” This is the motto of the United States Navy, the branch of the military that specializes in protecting our country’s shores and beyond. For students considering the military as a post-high school option, the values of the military are just one of the many reasons that they want to join.

Whether it be for financial reasons, family tradition or personal interest, some students choose to join the military as an option for life after high school.

Bertina Xue ‘17, who is a freshman at Ohio State University, said that discussing the possibility of joining the military with her friends made her interested in joining, but she considered the wishes of her parents as well, who wanted her to go to college. Currently, Xue takes part in a program called ROTC, also known as Reserve Officers’ Training Corp, which offers a path to being an officer in the military while in school.

“I picked the ROTC route because I realized that I still wanted a normal college life with a little bit of ROTC mixed in, you know. I didn’t want full on 100 percent military stuff going on,” Xue said.

In the U.S. there are multiple programs and academies that offer students an opportunity to train and be a part of the military after they graduate, as long as the students meet certain requirements.

“You can go to the Naval Academy down in Annapolis, which I think some BHS graduates have done or are going to do, and then you complete your four years there, and then you can commission that way or you can do what I do and commission that way,” Xue said.

Senior Fiona Lobon, who will be going to the Naval Academy in September, said that she wasn’t planning on joining a military route but fell in love with the school when she visited.

“When I went down to visit the school I just loved the atmosphere, and I loved the people,” Lobon said. “It’s all about being a part of a team and team spirit and lifting other people up, and it’s not about a single individual, it’s about everyone as a whole.”

Both the ROTC program and the Academy require active military service after graduation, however, the length depends on whether or not the student paid their own educational expenses or not. The ROTC requires at least four years of active duty and two years in the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR), which is inactive duty. The Naval Academy requires a minimum of five years of service. However, the length of service depends on the program and path the student wants to pursue in the military.

According to Brookline High School Career Counselor Kate Cordner, some students choose to join the military or apply to an academy due to personal interests.

“It’s similar to why students would want to go to Harvard as opposed to doing a gap year; it’s just their preference and where they feel that their strengths lie. That’s the biggest thing, how they see their future mapped out.” Cordner said.

Corder said there are also financial incentives for joining the military as well — some academies will cover college tuition, while other colleges and programs like ROTC offer scholarships that help cover the cost of college for those eligible.

The program holds students accountable both physically and mentally with physical training sessions as well as extra classes.

“It holds you to very high academic standards, and you have to get a bachelor’s degree in order to commission,” said Xue. “And then juggling your regular school classes and your ROTC classes and then getting up early in the morning and any other requirements all together. Ultimately, an ROTC student is taking on a much larger load than the average college student.”

Junior Ethan French said that there are units that he would like to join such as the pararescue unit, whose primary mission is to rescue people and are combat medics.

“I like public service. And while I don’t necessarily agree with the political environment right now or what a lot of the military does, there are certain units that I would be okay with getting involved in,” French said.

Joining the military requires more than physical and mental strength. Xue said that the values the United States Armed Forces stands for is also an important aspect when deciding whether to join.

“The Navy goes by ‘Honor, Courage and Commitment,’ and when I become a naval officer, that’s the person that I want to be,” Xue said. “When someone asks me what I’m proud of, I’d say I’m proud to be a naval officer because I can say that I embody these qualities and these traits and ultimately it’s a great deal.”