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Army ROTC students seize opportunities to grow

ASU cadets graduated from training, immersed themselves in other rewarding endeavors over the summer

ASU ROTC student Jose Gonzalez in an Apache helicopter.
August 28, 2023

Most students take a break from the books to do other things as soon as the spring semester ends, but for some Army ROTC cadets at ASU, this summer was about continued learning to prep for what’s next.

Juniors going into senior year with Arizona State University’s Sun Devil Army ROTC Battalion must attend Cadet Summer Training (CST), a demanding 38-day experience at Fort Knox, Kentucky, that tests cadets both physically and mentally. CST is an outcome-driven, complex problem-solving experience that evaluates cadets on their leadership attributes and competencies such as character, presence, intellectual capacity, leading by example, developing others and getting results.

This year, several ASU cadets graduated from CST and also immersed themselves in other rewarding endeavors.

“My summer was absolutely fantastic, from the friends I got to share these experiences with to the actual training itself,” said Jose Gonzalez, an Obama Scholar pursuing a bachelor’s degree in business (financial planning) from the W. P. Carey School of Business. “Not only did I get to learn the day-to-day administrative portion of the job, but I had the opportunity to train with U.S. Army Special Forces combat dive team in waterborne operations.”

After CST at Fort Knox, Gonzalez moved on to Cadet Troop Leadership Training, or CTLT, down the road at Fort Campbell with the famed 101st Airborne Division. Known as the “Screaming Eagles,” the division is known for its role during the World War II D-Day landings in France, heroic fighting in Vietnam, and for having legendary guitarist Jimi Hendrix as a former member.

“My experience this summer showed me that there is a vast amount of communities for everyone,” Phoenix native Gonzalez said. “There is no better fulfillment in this world than selfless service.”

For Cadet Ruby Torres, summer was a mix of military and civilian experience. Torres also graduated from CST this summer before heading to a unique civilian internship.

“CST was physically and mentally demanding,” Torres said. “But I was glad to complete it.”

Torres, also from Phoenix, was reviewing a list of internship opportunities advertised by the Army ROTC program when she saw an interesting one with WEVV-TV in Indiana. Torres was an enlisted Army soldier before coming to ASU, working in public affairs, the military’s public information function.

“Since I already had a bit of public affairs experience, the broadcasting internship caught my eye, so I decided to apply,” Torres said. “Luckily, I was selected and had the opportunity to go out to their offices in Evansville (in Indiana). I learned a little bit of what every department does.”

She spent the first few days with the station’s creative services teams, seeing how graphic designers and videographers collaborate in making promos and editing videos for commercials. Torres also learned about station advertisement sales, how news teams cover and package stories, and how the production team and master control operations orchestrate everything. 

“Overall, I had an intense but great summer ‘break,’” Torres said. “I had the opportunity to work with great people and learn new skills that will definitely apply in my education and professional career.”

In 2022, the Army awarded Torres a two-year scholarship to complete a bachelor’s degree to then return to active duty commissioned as a second lieutenant. Torres is pursuing a liberal studies degree with a minor in military leadership. After graduation she wants to enter the Army Adjutant General Corps, and later command a public affairs unit.

Guam native Hayden Shedd is looking forward to a career in Army engineering or military intelligence after being commissioned and graduating from ASU in 2024. He also completed CST this summer, and then flew across the Atlantic for his next mission.

“CST was a rewarding experience, got me out of my comfort zone, and made me learn a lot about my leadership style,” Shedd said.

After CST, Shedd traveled to Vilseck, a U.S. Army post in Germany’s southern state of Bavaria. There, he did CTLT with the 2nd Cavalry Regiment Sapper Platoon. Sappers primarily work with demolitions to clear routes and reduce obstacles in support of maneuvering ground forces.

While in Vilseck, Shedd spent time with the unit’s non-commissioned officer mentors, or NCOs, and learned from them.

“They taught me the importance of servant leadership and to lead with care,” Shedd said. “I also learned that to be successful, you need to place trust in NCOs and to understand that you are not alone.”

Shedd also witnessed how commissioned officers fit into the unit, including the day-to-day role of new lieutenants.

“I am grateful for the opportunity, it showed me the real side of what my future career is going to look like,” he said. “Lastly, the people were awesome. The Army is a ‘people business,’ and spending time with great, hard-working individuals made the experience that much better.”

Shedd is also pursuing a degree in business with an emphasis in financial planning, and graduates in spring 2024. He transitioned to ASU during the peak of the pandemic in 2020, joining Army ROTC soon after. It was his best option to grow and help finance school, a move he does not regret.

“I joined ROTC to challenge myself and be a better version of what I can be,” Shedd said. “Had I not taken this route, I feel I would not be as fulfilled as I am today.

“It’s not easy, but overcoming hard things is what we will always remember in our personal lives and what we ought to do as the people of this country.”

Top photo: ASU Army ROTC Cadet Jose Gonzalez sits in a U.S. Army AH-64 Apache helicopter. Photo courtesy Jose Gonzalez

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