The University of Dallas is known for its commitment to the liberal arts and the Western intellectual tradition, but a small group of individuals have committed themselves to an even more noble cause: the security of the United States.
Cadet Private (CDT/PVT) Emily LaFrance, a freshman, and 11 other Crusaders have devoted themselves to that cause through the Army’s Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program.
“I’m in ROTC so I can one day serve my country as an officer in the U.S. Army,” LaFrance said. “It’s something I’ve known I wanted to do for a long time. [I am] stoked to be taking the first step towards my lifelong calling.”
The Army has a very specific goal in mind, according to LaFrance, which is to develop the young men and women of today to become officers and future leaders in the Army, country and generation.
LaFrance believes her experiences in ROTC have only improved her liberal arts education.
“ROTC teaches you to be a leader and a strong, independent, responsible thinker,” LaFrance said. “It calls for unconventional problem solving and the courage to study and question the world about you. Being at the school for independent thinkers, I’d say such a way of thinking aligns with the way the core liberal arts education teaches you to think very well.”
Officer-in-Charge Malcolm Kuemmerlein, a junior, agrees and goes as far as to say the Army needs leaders educated in the liberal arts.
“I think the military could benefit from officers who have had a rigorous education in the liberal arts here at the University of Dallas,” Kuemmerlein said. “To have a grounding in fundamental ideas ranging from Ancient Greek philosophy to Western theological traditions to American history is to be motivated with not only a country to defend but also thousands of years of tradition and culture as well. I personally feel that a UD liberal arts education would go well with military training and experience.”
UD’s 12 ROTC cadets attend military science classes and labs at the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA).
The Maverick Battalion consists of cadets from UTA, Southern Methodist University (SMU), Texas A&M University-Commerce and UD.
LaFrance explained that the colleges consolidate because there are so few cadets from each school.
“By the time you broke down the number of cadets we have here into sub-battalion components, you’d end up having one-man squads,” LaFrance said.
Kuemmerlein stated that cohesion among other colleges can be tricky, but generally the cadets work in sync.
“The cohesion between the UTA and DFW area cadets is strong enough that there is an effective working unit at the central school,” Kuemmerlein said. “The cadets at UTA are pretty in sync with each other, whereas it takes a little additional effort for off-campus cadets like those from UD or SMU to work alongside them. Overall, however, the cadets get along and work together well.”
Not all students are under contract, meaning they have not yet earned a college scholarship, which covers tuition and other school costs, such as transportation.
“[However,] all ROTC cadets who are in the program to eventually work in the Army are striving to get contracted, and most hope to by the end of their sophomore year,” LaFrance said. “From what I have seen and experienced, if you’re serious about wanting to make this a career and dedicate yourself to succeeding in the program, you’re very likely to receive a contract.”
For those students who do earn a contract, they will meet an eight-year service commitment, which can be divided into four years of active duty and four years of reserve duty.
Students may choose to continue in post-graduate studies to serve a specific role, such as a doctor or psychologist, in exchange for years of service.
Regardless of future career goals, LaFrance believes that ROTC is an invaluable catalyst of personal development, especially during the first year.
“I would recommend anyone take [the first year of class],” LaFrance said. “It actually has very little to do with the Army. It’s all about leadership development, social skills, goal setting and accomplishing, effectively communicating, time management and basic life skills that I believe could really help anyone moving towards a bright future.”
The specific goals she has been tasked with have also been of great benefit to her personal development in mind, body and spirit.
“The activities we’ve done, like getting up at 5:30 a.m. to work out, have made me more health-conscious and physically fit,” LaFrance said. “The biggest impact I’ve seen, however, is on my mental toughness. I have a lot more conviction to accomplish what I set out to do and willpower to tackle and overcome all challenges that come my way.”
In addition, according to LaFrance, being a woman in a predominantly male force does not present her with any unique challenges.
“When you also get down to what the Army really is at its core, gender makes little difference,” LaFrance said. “That’s one of the things I love so much about the Army. There is no black or white, Christian or Jew, woman or man; we’re all the same soldier wearing the same uniform defending the same people in the same beautiful country.”