Lessons learned from last year’s process

This blog post should have been published back in June, but it’s not too late to share the info.  I like to think I’m pretty helpful with the scholarship process.  We are just through the first round of offers for this year, and I’m hoping I can replicate my stats from last year.

The Army ROTC high school scholarship process is a over for the class of 2020.  It was another good year for me and I’m happy with the way it went for my applicants.  Because my high school campaign is my priority, and it is where I can set the Battalion up for success, I look closely at the statistics to see how we did.  So what did I see this year?

  • 80 applicants started an application and listed one or more of my schools (Clarkson, St Lawrence, SUNY Potsdam, or SUNY Canton)
  • 60 of those applicants provided enough information to be seen on the PMS list in our system and visible to us without having to hunt for them.  That means they were in an interviewee status and were eligible to interview with a PMS
  • 35 of those applicants got an offer.
  • 20 of those offers were to the Golden Knight Battalion
  • 9 accepted their offer to the GKB
  • I was able to offer one additional 3AD offer, which was accepted.

What else did I learn?

It looks like the uploading of offers happened quicker and the release of results was almost instantaneous this year.  For the last round, by the time I could see offers being posted the status in the applicants website was changing.  We (programs) were still instructed not to contact winners until offer letters were mailed, but we got the go ahead quicker.

I also spent some time poking around the application website and realized that if an applicant would spend a little time reading all the information on the website many of the answers to frequently asked questions are right there (go figure). This process is not something that can be explained in a paragraph or two, so careful reading of provided information is always a good practice.

 

CULP trip 2014 – Romania – Cadet Mooney

It’s that time of the Summer when I start to get the trip reports from the CULP missions.  First to submit her report was Cadet Sally Mooney.  She will be entering her Junior year in the GKB and is studying at SUNY Potsdam and playing hockey there.  Here is her report from Romania.

I was a part of TM 10 Romania for CULP 2014. We had twelve cadets staying in Bucharest, Romania where we worked with the Jandarmeria. This is the special military police force that specializes in riot control and anti-terrorism. Our mission was to help them better understand english, in exchange for Jandarm training.

Mooney 1

During the week, we spent the day at their base. In the mornings we would do training, and in the afternoon we gave presentations on American culture and language. Some training events include: riot formations, breaching a building, combatives, rappelling, and rock climbing. One day, we went to the range and shot the MP5 and Sig Sauer P226. That was the team’s favorite day because none of us had shot these weapons before.

The Jandarms showing me a formation

The Jandarms showing me a formation

Many of the Jandarms were experts in MMA, and one was even the national champion for boxing. They taught us a lot of combatives and it was very beneficial and fulfilling for us. We also visited an orphanage while we were there. We went to the grocery store and bought a ton of food and toys to donate to the children of the orphanage. When we got there, the children were very excited and did not hesitate to dive into the toys we got them.

On the weekends, we traveled to do some sightseeing, and expand our cultural perspectives. The first weekend we went to Brasov where we saw Castle Peles, Castle Bran (Dracula’s Castle), a fortress, and a medieval city.

 

Tm 10 cadets outside of Castle Bran (Dracula’s Castle)

Tm 10 cadets outside of Castle Bran (Dracula’s Castle)

One of the Jandarms lived near there and we had the chance to see where he grew up. This was the most culturally shocking moment for me, because the Jandarm’s home was a very simple houses made of mud and set in a village. It was a self sufficient home. It was something that you see pictures of, but never actually witness. It was important for the team to get the chance to see that not every house is modernized and it was amazing to see. The next weekend we went to Mamaia on the Black Sea. We spent our time playing volleyball and relaxing on the beach. The weekends were a lot of fun because they offered a chance to fully see the country, as well as help us build relationships with our Romanian counterparts.

My Romanian counterpart (Cioby) and me wearing the riot control equipment

My Romanian counterpart (Cioby) and me wearing the riot control equipment

During my time there, I made friends with Romanians and fellow cadets. It was an experience of a lifetime, and I am very happy that I was able to go on this trip. I learned a lot about their culture and saw firsthand how much it is different from the lifestyle I have been fortunate to have.

As usual, the trip was life changing and opened the Cadet’s eyes to how other cultures live.  Thanks for bringing back a good story and lots of pictures Cadet Mooney.

 

Board dates 2014-2015 scholarship boards

Here they are, the dates for this fall/winter’s board dates. If you are applying for a four year high school Army ROTC scholarship that will start in the fall of 2015 these are the dates you should pay attention to. If you are a high school student finishing up your junior year and going into senior year in the fall, these are your dates.

1st High School Selection Board Deadline for Documents 3-Oct-14
1st High School Board-Ready List PMS Deadline 17-Oct-14
1st High School Selection Board 20-Oct-14
2nd High School Selection Board Deadline for Documents 24-Dec-14
2nd High School Board-Ready List PMS Deadline 2-Jan-15
2nd High School Selection Board 5-Jan-15
4-Year High School Application Deadline for SY 15-16 10-Jan-15
Final (3rd) HS Selection Board Deadline for Docs — Missing Items 28-Feb-15
3rd High School Board-Ready List PMS Deadline 6-Mar-15
Final (3rd) High School Selection Board  9-Mar-15

So, what does all this mean. If you have a strong file you should be shooting to have your file complete by 3 October and reviewed by the first board.

Look at SAT/ACT dates. If you don’t do so well the first time you take those tests your second shot is usually some time shortly after the October board, so you should be shooting for the second board and submitting improved scores if your file isn’t strong. Here’s where you can get some help with those tests, use it.

If you wait until the second or third board your chances are diminished because there will obviously be less allocations available after each board.

As you go through the process make sure you read about all the components (this blog is a good source of information, if I do say so myself) and stay in touch with at least one of the recruiting officers at one of the schools on your list. Notice I said recruiting Officer, and not recruiter…there is a difference.

CULP trip 2013 – Vietnam – Cadet Locci

Joe Locci reports on his trip to Vietnam.  This is one of my favorite stories from this year’s crop.  I’ve known Joe for a few years now.  He comes from a pretty simple, down to earth background.  I know he has never traveled extensively.  I also know he has Veterans in his family.  When he got selected to go to Vietnam I knew it would be a special opportunity for him.  Here is how he described his trip.

CULP 2013 deployed me to Hanoi, Vietnam from 28 June through 20 July. The team`s mission was to foster healthy relations between the U.S. and Vietnam by working with Vietnamese officers through the instruction and communication of the English language. My team of 11 cadets were divided between four separate classes for the first two weeks of our three week deployment. We discussed aspects of our cultures to include things like currency, weather, food, and family with our students and eventually developed impenetrable friendships with our students.

locci vietnam1During weekends and the final week of our deployment to Vietnam my team took the opportunity to culturally immerse ourselves and experience the lifestyle of Vietnamese people. Such immersions included a trip to the sublime area of Ha Long Bay and the luxurious beach of Da Nang.

locci vietnam4

We also toured the DMZ and other historic cites of the Vietnam War such as Khe Sahn Combat Base.

locci vietnam2 We also visited ancient areas such as the Citadel and Imperial City located in Hue, and ruins of My Son.

locci vietnam3We toured various museums and establishments such as the U.S. Embassy and the “Hanoi Hilton”; the POW camp where former Presidential nominee John McCain was imprisoned.

locci vietnam5

Most memorable events would include the whole trip. As I have never traveled outside the U.S. before it was all a first time experience for me that I will never forget. I did enjoy the times spent at Vietnamese restaurants with my fellow cadets eating cuisines that included bizarre foods such as fresh snake or locust. Overall the trip was a success that completely transformed my whole outlook on life. Set ideas and beliefs that I had were totally transformed and reassessed. Too many Americans have no idea how blessed they are just for the fact of being born in the U.S…

Another report from a memorable trip.  It’s almost time for the next batch of Cadets to apply for next Summer’s trips.  Looking forward to their stories.

Bears and Saints 2013

The Golden Knight Battalion is made up of Cadets from all four of the schools in the North Country (ClarksonSt LawrenceSUNY Potsdam, and SUNY Canton). Each of the schools adds something special to the mix. Although they all bring unique qualities to the Battalion they all become part of the Battalion quickly. The mix was a good one again this year.  Of note was the fact that all three of the commissionees at SUNY Potsdam was a member of the National Guard or Army Reserves.

This was also the last year that Dr. Schwaller, the President at SUNY Potsdam will participate in our ceremony.  Each year he made it a point to mention that his first official duty when he arrived at SUNY Potsdam was to be part of an Army ROTC commissioning ceremony.  We wish him well as he leave SUNY Potsdam this summer.

Dr Schwaller

So without further adieu, our Commissionees for the Class of 2013 from St Lawrence and State University of New York at Potsdam.

Lieutenant Joel Diagostino

Lieutenant Diagostino is being commissioned into the Corps of Engineers.  He received a bachelor of arts degree in mathematics from State University of New York at Potsdam.  He will attend the Engineer Officer basic course at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri and will serve in the Army Reserves with the 366th MAC Engineer Company here in the North Country.  He also scored the first goal in the hockey game against Air Force this year.

Lieutenant Jacob O’Brien

Lieutenant O’Brien is being commissioned into the Quartermaster Corps.  He received a bachelor of science degree in business administration from State University of New York at Potsdam.  He will serve at the Leadership Development and Assessment Course at Fort Lewis, Washington this summer prior to attending the Quartermaster Officer basic course at Fort Lee, Virginia.  His first duty will be at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, with the 82nd Airborne Division.

Lieutenant Robishaw

Lieutenant Robishaw is being commissioned into the Transportation Corps.  He received bachelor of arts degrees in criminal justice and sociology from State University of New York at Potsdam.  After graduation he will attend the Transportation Officer basic course in Fort Lee, Virginia.  His first duty assignment will be at Fort Campbell, Kentucky with the 101st Combat Support Command.

empey silver dollar

Lieutenant Sean Empey

Lieutenant Empey is being commissioned into the Chemical Corps.  He received a bachelor of arts degree from St Lawrencein history.  He will serve this summer at the Leadership Development and Assessment Course at Fort Lewis, Washington prior to attending the Chemical  Officer basic course at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.  His first duty assignment will be Fort Hood, Texas with the 1ST Cavalry Division.

We are now almost “Mission Complete” on the class of 2013. We do have three Cadets who are finishing up course work and plan to earn their degree and commission before the end of the semester.  These three will allow us to exceed our commission mission again this year.   Not bad for a small school from the real upstate New York.

Words matter

I was at one of the freshman orientation sessions at SUNY Potsdam this week and a couple of interactions with attendees got me thinking about a blog post that needed to be written.

Clinton Community College

I was speaking to a parent and she asked me how long I had been a recruiter at Clarkson.  I have always been sensitive about being called a recruiter.  I am not a recruiter.  I prefer the title Enrollment Officer, and the common title for my job in Cadet Command is Recruiting Operations Officer or ROO.  Why am I so sensitive?  If you are talking to a recruiter typically you are exploring enlistment.  The service I provide is to help college students enroll in Army ROTC class and take the first step on one of the paths to Officership.  I have nothing against recruiters, but they have a different motive and agenda than I do.

The other interaction I had was with an incoming freshman.  She asked me how she could JOIN Army ROTC.  I corrected her by explaining that she wasn’t joining, she was enrolling in a class.  I know some people would argue that it’s just semantics, but I would contend that you don’t join an english lit class, you enroll in the class.  You don’t join calculus class, you enroll in the class.  Yes you are joining the organization that is the Golden Knight Battalion, but I usually want you to enroll in a class before you take the leap that is JOINING the Army.  Once you sign that contract, or at least make the commitment that you are working towards a contract,  I feel more comfortable saying that you have joined Army ROTC.  

What say you??

The Commissioning Ceremony

This year was a special year for commissioning ceremonies here in the North Country. Actually, every year is special, but the number of family members that played a special role, the number of departed cadets and cadre that returned, and the sheer number of cadets commissioned all made this year memorable. Here are just a couple of the highlights for me.

William Snyder

Bill Snyder receives his bars from a couple Marines
A little over four years ago I journeyed down to Lowville to give one of my four year scholarship winners his PT test. We set up a time to meet at the Lewis County Fairgrounds in Lowville, which had a track adequate for the 2 mile run. I arrived and met Bill’s father, a retired Marine Corps Major, and his younger brother, Joe, who was an athlete and in my eyes, a prospect. Flash forward to commissioning day and Bill’s father administering the oath, Bill’s father and his brother putting on his bars, and then Bill receiving his silver dollar salute from his brother who is now an enlisted Marine.

Green to Gold at Potsdam

LT Garza receives his bar from his daughter
The Kiser family putting the bars on Dad
LT Sauders receivs his bars

At Potsdam this year we saw the fruits of our Fort Drum Green to Gold office’s labor. Four Green to Gold Cadets and one Cadet who was a Green to Gold prospect finished their studies and commissioned. All four of the Green to Gold Cadets had children who helped pin their bars on. All the Commissioning Cadets at the ceremony had someone special swear them in, and Col Peterson was a terrific guest speaker, who swore Cadet Vasquez in, just as he did two years previously, when he reenlisted into the ROTC program.

DMG

This year we had five Distinguished Military Graduates (DMG). A DMG is defined as:

An ROTC graduate who has maintained a distinguished military student status throughout MSL IV and is in the top 20% of the National Accessions order of merit list (OML).

LTs Austin, Zanghi, Garza, Lambert, and Wilsey received DMG recognition this year. Those in the know (Dilys and Shirley) claim this is the most in recent memory. Of course this was a bigger commissioning class than usual, but our number of DMGs was still an accomplishment.

Dilys silver dollar salutes

A handful of Cadets this year chose to ask Mrs. Dilys Heinssen, our Human Resource Administrator (HRA) to be part of their Silver Dollar Salute. She is a retired Reserve Non-commissioned Officer, and over the years has played an instrumental role in processing all the paperwork involved with their ROTC career from contracting and enrolling to commissioning. It was nice to see her have the honor this year of a handful of first salutes.

Cummings Mother/Swartz Grandmother


As the father of two daughters and someone who has a lot of respect for strong women in the military this year was very special. Among the former Officers who played a role in the festivities at St Lawrence were two female veterans. LT Cummings was sworn in by her mother, Candyce who is a retired Army Major, and LT Swartz had one of his bars placed on his uniform by his grandmother, Mary Mills, who served in World War Two as a captain.