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Naval ROTC Freshmen Report for Training

Students spend a week at naval base preparing for NROTC commitment

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September 18, 2012 | by Matt Paolelli

Four freshmen got a head start on their college experience in late August as incoming members of Northwestern’s Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) program. While the rest of the Class of 2016 enjoyed a longer-than-usual summer vacation, the new midshipmen spent a week at Naval Station Great Lakes for orientation and basic training.

Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences freshmen Craig Sabath, Peter Carlin and Sebastian Rodriguez and Bienen School of Music freshman Chad Carter learned about military culture and courtesies, engaged in drills and physical fitness training, received pistol certification and went sailing on Lake Michigan several times.

“Northwestern is a top academic institution, and I thought ROTC would give me the most balanced education I could get,” Sabath said. “I feel like this week has really given me the tools to begin my military career on the right foot.”

Established in 1926, Northwestern’s NROTC unit was one of the first six campus units in the country. The Marine Corps entered the NROTC program in 1932, commissioning NROTC graduates in the U.S. Marine Corps. Since its inception, the Northwestern Battalion has commissioned more than 2,300 Navy and Marine Corps officers with some graduates of the program currently fighting overseas.

A handful of Northwestern upperclassmen joined the freshmen for the week at Great Lakes as well. McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science junior Andrew Staples had long considered a military career and finally applied for NROTC when he turned 18 this year. Even though he will have some catching up to do, Staples said the week of training made him even more confident about his decision.

“The Navy has a very rich history, and it’s been a lot of fun,” Staples said. “They’ve exposed us to a lot of things that I never would have been exposed to if I hadn’t done this.”

McCormick junior Charlotte Thayer, who entered NROTC as a freshman, spent the week serving as a midshipman staff member. Serving as both a mentor and enforcer, Thayer ensured that the freshmen midshipmen were following orders and staying on task during their training.

“After the first day, they’re tired and frustrated and not sure they want to be here,” she said. “By the end of the week, they have a more positive outlook and a sense of empowerment that they can do something challenging like this.”

The challenge continues as the midshipmen start the school year and balance the rigors of a Northwestern education with additional naval science coursework and other NROTC activities. After a week of rigorous training that cemented both their bonds as a military unit and their commitment to the program, the students said they are up to the task.

“We’ve learned a lot from each other and worked together during this week,” said freshman Chad Carter. “I want to have a definitive impact on the University and eventually on the country that has helped me get so far in life.”
Topics: Campus Life