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USciences Students Get an Introduction to Army Life at Fort Knox Basic Camp

By Jenna Pizzi

Eyelids heavy, running on just four hours of sleep and sitting propped up against their packs, Adam Reed HS’19 and Lauren Kaminski PharmD’21 knew they couldn’t give in to fatigue because the call to protect their unit from an attack could come at any time.

“Being out in the field you have to be ready for anything,” said Reed. “It is continuous training.”

Reed and Kaminski weren’t under assault in the deserts of the Middle East, but rather simulating a battle scenario in the hills of Kentucky.

Lauren Kaminski PharmD’21 at morning lab with ROTC Task Force Dragon Battalion at Drexel University.

Lauren Kaminski PharmD’21 at morning lab with ROTC Task Force Dragon Battalion at Drexel University.  

The exercise is a standard part of the intense four-week Basic Camp or Cadet Initial Entry Training this summer at Fort Knox as part of their enrollment in the Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program at USciences.

“They take the basic elements of the basic training that all new cadets in the army go through and incorporate them into this summer program for ROTC students,” said Kaminski.

The camp is designed for college students, typically between their second and third years, and is a requirement to continue into senior ROTC programs. The goal is to instill confidence and decision-making abilities necessary to become a leader in both the Army and in life.

The USciences ROTC operates though a cooperative agreement with Drexel University. Students train with the Task Force Dragon Battalion, composed of students from Drexel, The University of Pennsylvania, LaSalle University, Saint Joseph’s, and USciences.

Lt. Col. Lawrence Camacho, professor of military science and chair of the ROTC program at Drexel University, said he has seen a change in Kaminski, Reed, and all of the students who participated in the camp.

“You can see the professional growth in the cadets both as individual leaders and as people,” said Lt. Col. Camacho. “They gained quite a bit of training from the leaders that they watched and then also from the other cadets who attended.”

Adam Reed HS’19 works with his team from ROTC Task Force Dragon Battalion at Drexel University.

Adam Reed HS’19 works with his team from ROTC Task Force Dragon Battalion at Drexel University.  

Army ROTC is an elective curriculum students take with their required college classes. The program aims to provide individuals, like Kaminski and Reed, with the tools, training, and experiences they will need to become officers in the U.S. Army. Because Army ROTC is an elective, first- and second- year college students can participate without any obligation to join the service. Those who follow through the program will become an officer upon graduation.

At the camp, Kaminski and Reed gained experiences which run the gamut of Army life and prepared them for the responsibilities of being an officer. They learned how to endure tear gas, trained in artillery, completed grenade assault courses, and challenged themselves on high ropes courses.

At the beginning of camp, cadets learn the basics under the tutelage of drill sergeants before taking their first Army Physical Fitness Test. After, small-group, team-based activities begin where the cadets learn different tactics and complete challenging courses. Each cadet takes on a leadership role as they lead peers through simulated combat scenarios using paintball guns.

“It was a good test for both mental toughness and physical strength,” said Kaminski.

Both Kaminski and Reed said the camp and ROTC are the primer and the first step to their future careers serving as commissioned U.S. Army officers upon graduation.

“My dad was in the Army, and I knew from early on that I wanted to serve. But being able to go to college and then enroll felt like the right start to my career,” said Reed. “ROTC gives me the best of both worlds – being a student seven days a week and in the Army for two of those days.”

Although she is following in the footsteps of her sister Jessica Kaminski PharmD’13,who is an Army pharmacist stationed in Germany, Lauren said committing to the Army was a decision she made on her own.

“ROTC helps to build upon the skills of self-discipline, self-confidence, and leadership, which are necessary for any calling in life. This atmosphere cultivates a passion that is very rewarding,” she said. “Not only do I get to protect my country, but I get to be a part of something bigger than myself.”

ROTC is designed for those who desire to be part of something special, part of a team, said Lt. Col. Camacho.

“If you want to know what it takes to develop yourself as a leader, give ROTC a shot,” he said.  “It is fun, to watch how far all of these cadets have come and knowing how far they will go to become leaders either in active service or in the Army reserves.”

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