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ROTC Community Builds Esprit de Corps

by Keith Hautala

(Nov. 6, 2013) — Being a successful student at the University of Kentucky requires a high level of commitment and self-discipline.

That goes double for students in the Reserve Officer Training Corps, or ROTC.

ROTC cadets have committed to serve their country after graduation by pursuing a commission as an officer in the Army or the Air Force. In addition to their regular classes, ROTC cadets take officer training courses. This includes hands-on leadership training in a laboratory environment, academic courses and a rigorous physical training program (PT).

"With a lot of other students on campus, they schedule their classes later in the day so they don’t have to get up early," said U.S. Army Cadet Megan Presley, a sophomore majoring in psychology. "But with ROTC, you have PT in the morning. I have to be up at 5:30 in the morning three days out of the week."

That can be hard, living on campus, especially if you end up with a night owl for a roommate. That's one of the reasons Presley decided to live in the ROTC Living Learning Community during her second year. The community, located within Blanding Tower, is home to about about 25 men and women on separate floors. It is expected to grow to 40 students in Fall 2014, and to 50 students in 2015.

Presley says the community provides a supportive environment, where fellow cadets help each other out.

"You have your own little support group," she said. "Everybody gets each other up and makes sure that nobody gets left behind."

The community also has special weekly and monthly programs for the cadets. However, these tend to be informal and focused on team-building and fun activities, such as movie nights or an MRE dinner (made up of "meals ready to eat," the packaged field rations enjoyed by military personnel on active duty in remote locations). Staying in the community is not regimented like living in a barracks, according to U.S. Air Force Capt. Jonathon Cozad, the community's ROTC partner.

"The main advantage of staying in the Living Learning Community is the ability to live in a supportive environment with your peers," Cozad said. "It provides an excellent opportunity to learn how to be a college student — and how to be an ROTC cadet — as part of a group rather than just as an individual."  

Blanding Tower Resident Director Monique Scott agrees.

"It can be very helpful to be surrounded by people who share your interests and who are involved in the same activities," she said.

Celebrating its 25th year on campus in fall 2014, the Living Learning Program at the University of Kentucky provides students with an environment to learn where they live and to live where they learn. The Division of Student Affairs Office of Residence Life, creators of the program, collaborated with academic and other student success partners to complement the classroom experience. Through Living Learning Communities and Residential Colleges, UK offers students an opportunity to live and learn together in an integrated academic residential environment.

This dynamic residential experience offers specialized programming, interactions with UK faculty and staff, and a supportive community that focuses on student success. The program has grown exponentially in recent years with 965 students participating in 13 programs this fall. Six more programs will be added in fall 2014, nine times more than in 2008. For more information, visit