Students in the University's ROTC program wake up early. They don uniforms and often hurry to intense physical training sessions that push them to sweat even in the cold. They are students training to be soldiers.
Members of the Hoya Battalion, a ROTC program, can trace its history back to the birth of America. Along with a rich history, it can now boast it is the best in the nation.
The Army ROTC program which operates at GW, Georgetown, American and Catholic Universities as well as at The Institute for World Politics, was recognized in late January by the U.S. Army Cadet Command as the top-ranking senior ROTC battalion in the nation.
The battalion beat out 272 other senior ROTC programs nationwide for the prestigious honor, which recognizes achievements during the 2010 to 2011 school year.
The national award is decided based on progression rates, overall performance, battalion missions and individual member rankings for the previous school year. The battalion is cadet-run, and members look to their peers for leadership and training. Senior members plan trainings to prepare fellow cadets for fitness tests and required trainings. They mentor younger members, building bonds that cross any social divide.
The cadets feel their cadre – a mix of retired and active officers, non-commissioned officers and reserve members – brings incredible experiences to the battalion and has the innate ability to build strong leaders.
Members have travelled to the Middle East to practice their Arabic language training, spent summers at Warrior forge – a mandatory training camp the future soldiers attend during the summer after junior year – spend weekends utilizing their skills in the field and aim to maintain high scores on their Army Physical Fitness Test.
Committed members like Teague Savitch feel it is the astute leadership and fortified dedication of cadets that make the Hoya Battalion exceptional.
“I decided to join ROTC to experience an important path less traveled, while at the same time, having the honor to serve my country and work with a unique group of people; individuals committed to pursuing something far greater than themselves,” Savitch said.
Three years after graduating from University of California, Berkeley with a bachelor’s degree in environmental science, Savitch decided he wanted to obtain his master's in security policy at GW.
The bonds amongst the battalion also span across schools, as the members are separated by universities but united under the common goal of serving their country. Emmi explains she feels the common choice to study in the nation's capital is a telling feature contributing to their desire for excellence. They are given greater access to internships and are able to tour such important buildings like the Pentagon, opportunities only afforded to this battalion because of their unique location and impressive alumni connections.
Today, more than 30 GW students are part of the prestigious program that is recognized for its excellence in recruiting, retaining, developing and commissioning officers for the U.S. Army.
“Our cadets and cadre have always put forth 110 percent in everything we do, and we always knew our program commissioned the best officers,” senior Lauren Emmi said. Emmi has been a member of the battalion since her freshman year.
Though each cadet joins ROTC for a different reason, knowing each of them will serve their country is another uniting factor.
“The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq opened my eyes to the military lifestyle,“ Emmi said. “Ever since I was 12, I knew it was something I wanted to do.”
Emmi will begin training as an active duty military intelligence officer next fall, after graduating with a degree from the Elliott School in May. Savitch will become a commissioned officer in the army reserves and pursue a civilian career.
Melissa Turley contributed to this report