Dozens of Pitt-Bradford students are learning
that one class can teach them organizational, management and leadership skills
and even show them a way to pay for college.
the last decade, the number of students taking military science courses has
steadily increased, making its first leap around 2004, from one or two new
students enrolling each year to eight or 10. Around five years ago, numbers began
to climb again, slowly and steadily. Last year, 18 freshmen enrolled in Military
Science 101, a two-credit, no-military-obligation course that teaches
universally useful skills like time management and communication skills. Other
perks of the class are free books and a lab that includes survival skills and
the fall of 2006, a total of 29 students were enrolled in one of the 10
military science courses offered. In the Spring 2014 semester, that number had
more than doubled to 72.
Tuesdays, when military science courses are taught, students in uniform are now
a frequent sight in the Frame-Westerberg Commons as they make their way to and
Alex Nazemetz, director
of admissions, said he is seeing more interest in the programs from high school
students, particularly in programs like nursing, due in part to the efforts of
the region’s two recruiters for the Pennsylvania National Guard.
science at Pitt-Bradford is a multi-way partnership between Pitt-Bradford, the
Seneca Battalion Army ROTC at nearby St. Bonaventure University in Allegany,
N.Y., and the Pennsylvania National Guard. Students have a variety of choices,
from signing a contract and joining the National Guard to competing for a
national ROTC scholarship and being commissioned into the U.S. Army as a
Class Warren Shaw, a graduate of Pitt-Bradford himself, and Sgt. 1st
Class J.R. Page recruit students from
throughout Western Pennsylvania as well as teach military science courses at
Pitt-Bradford. They frequently set up information tables at Pitt-Bradford for
those already in school and travel to scores of high schools.
while they’re recruiting, they have a current student in the program with them.
High schoolers who visit the campus are paired with a current cadet. “It’s the kids who sell the program,” Shaw
The promise of a substantial
aid package also helps. Students who join the National Guard can earn up to
$13,000 per year for tuition, a $350 per-month stipend for living expenses and
$1,200 per year for books. Students train one weekend per month and two weeks
in the summer. They will have service obligations following their education,
depending on how their agreement is structured.
Those obligations can
be substantial – up to eight years – so while the money for college is
important, Shaw said, the desire to serve must be the primary reason. Shaw
gives them plenty of time to make a decision. Students can take classes for
several semesters without joining the National Guard or ROTC.
want good decisions (about joining),” Shaw said. “Happy decisions.” Students
who take the introductory course, Foundations of Officership, in the fall
cannot join the National Guard until November, once they’ve had a little bit of
experience with the program.
the “pay-back” obligation can make some pause, for many other students
following the recent recession, the promise of a guaranteed job is something
that appeals, said Lt. Jared Kausner, recruiting operations officer for the
Students can also take
advantage of high-quality leadership training and internships that will give
them an edge with employers. Students
take classes at Pitt-Bradford during their first and second year, then travel
to St. Bonaventure to take advanced leadership courses with juniors and seniors
from all four colleges in the Seneca Battalion: Pitt-Bradford, St. Bonaventure,
Alfred State SUNY College of Technology and Houghton College.
the Seneca Battalion ROTC, students can compete nationwide for a full ROTC
the route that 2nd Lt. Tiara Brown ended up taking. A 2013 graduate
of Pitt-Bradford, Brown was a model cadet, who didn’t even know she wanted to
go into the military when she came to campus as a nontraditional student.
needed to pay for college myself, and I was working 52 hours a week at
McDonalds, plus at Tops,” she said in a phone interview from her current
station in Fort Rucker, Ala., where she is learning to fly Apache helicopters
for the Army.
she saw a sign that said she could get paid to go to school, it seemed too good
to be true. A former track runner, she had continued to work out and was in
good shape. She talked with recruiters and took a physical aptitude test that
she scored well on. Combined with good grades, it made her the top-ranked cadet
in the battalion and earned her the chance to go to airborne school.
was always taught that when you’re given an opportunity, take it,” she said. So
within a few months of seeing a recruitment poster in the Commons, she was
jumping out of airplanes.
was a fantastic opportunity,” she said. “It was the best thing that could have
happened to me at Pitt-Bradford, and it broke the barrier for me for a lot of
things there. I speak wonders about the program. I already had a leadership
foundation from my family and track, but it pushed my limits. It brought out
things in me that I didn’t know I was capable of.”
went on to become the first student not from St. Bonaventure to be the Seneca
Battalion Commander in her senior year.
profile students like Brown at Pitt-Bradford are helping to grow the program
even more and helping Pitt-Bradford grow along the way.