Veteran’s Day is this Saturday, and here at JMU, we have so many family, friends and students to thank for their past, present and future service to our country.
On Wednesdays, you might notice some of our fellow JMU Dukes walking around campus in uniform. Maybe you have no real idea of why this is, but you’ve also never asked. Well, those uniformed students – cadets – are doing a lot of amazing things you may not know of in the JMU ROTC program. Most ROTC experiences begin early on in college and prepare students to begin their active military service. However, there isn’t one experience that is exactly the same as another.
The JMU Army ROTC battalion dates back to 1974 when the president of Madison College (what we now know and love as James Madison University) established a partnership with UVA’s Cavalier Battalion. By 1979, the United States Army’s Cadet Command recognized the success of the previously 2 cadet battalion, and the program has grown stronger ever since, with now approximately 175 Army ROTC cadets. Throughout a cadet’s time in the program, they learn practical training skills in the field, the classroom, and the community that will prepare them for their active military service upon graduation.
Who are our Army cadets?
No matter how a student begins their journey to become a cadet, every ROTC experience is a little bit different. This is because cadets are not only cadets, they are also dedicated full time students, commanders, community leaders and more. A unique ROTC experience here at JMU is not very hard to find in the battalion of the amazing cadets we have on campus with us. Michael Humphrise and Joanna Curci are two of JMU’s Army ROTC senior cadets. As seniors, they are responsible for leading and teaching younger cadets the ins and outs of ROTC both in classroom and field settings. Humphrise and Curci are two outstanding examples of Army cadets on our campus that are passionate about their work in the ROTC program.
Michael Humphrise is our JMU Army ROTC’s Cadet Battalion Commander. This means that Humphrise oversees all activities and responsibilities throughout in the battalion. He also acts as a direct communication to the Carde (Professors and Faculty) of our ROTC program. With this incredible responsibility, it is not hard to imagine how dedicated Humphrise is to the success and growth of every cadet in the Army program.
Humphrise’s interest in ROTC began in high school. Unique to many, he has no direct family connection to the military and simply admired the strict discipline and dedication that the military offers. Humphrise was awarded a scholarship to JMU to complete the JMU ROTC program and become an active duty service member after graduation. Along with his participation as a cadet, he studies Computer Information Systems – arguably one of JMU’s toughest majors.
Over his years in ROTC, Humphrise has done many incredible things. However, this past summer after his time at advanced camp, he was selected to participate in CTLT (Cadet Troop Leader Training) in which he shadowed a 2nd Lieutenant for a month as recognition for his outstanding work at camp. He was one of the only cadets that was chosen to go and experience the ins and outs of the cyber unit that he is interested in being assigned to. This unique honor gave Humphrise an even closer look into the life he will be living in the Army upon graduation.
Now as a senior so close to being sworn in and beginning his career, Humphrise has a lot that he wants to thank the ROTC program for giving him. He believes that this program presented him with challenges day-to-day that made him an overall stronger person. Learning dedication through his sometimes 5am – 10pm days was something that Humphrise could not have gotten outside of being an ROTC cadet.
Humphrise says that his unique ROTC experience has given him “the self-discipline that teaches someone how they should balance a good life.”
Joanna Curci (pictured above, middle) began her ROTC experience her sophomore year, and now as a senior, holds the S1 position in her battalion. This means that Curci is responsible for all personnel and accountabilities of the JMU Army battalion. Along with this position, Curci was also OCI (officer in charge) of planning the ROTC formal dinner – a highly anticipated event held last weekend for all cadets.
Curci’s ties to the military were very close to home as her father served our country for 28 years in the Army. Growing up as a military kid and observing the leadership and values of Army life is was what grabbed Curci’s own interest in joining the military. However, beginning school at JMU, Curci focused her time as a first year on her academics and beginning her studies in the Education (IDLS) program. Once becoming a sophomore, Curci joined the Army ROTC program and began her journey as a cadet.
Curci’s personal achievements in ROTC have provided her with the experience to grow as a strong and organized leader. There are many aspects of Curci’s ROTC involvement that make it exceptional, but having her younger sister as a cadet in her battalion is one of the most unique and meaningful parts for her. Curci explained that being able to teach and train her sister one-on-one as a sophomore year cadet is something that she is extremely grateful for. Standing as her sister’s guide as she begins her own cadet training heightens Curci’s personal experience for growing cadets well.
As a senior Army ROTC cadet, Curci has assumed positions of responsibility and high standard, but she says that her college experience is sincerely whole because of the skills that she has mastered in ROTC that she “could not have learned anywhere else.”
A Common Thread…
Although I have stressed the unique aspects of cadets like Humphrise and Curci, there is one thing incredible thing that they had in common. Both cadets overwhelmingly mentioned the strong camaraderie that they share with their battalion. The Army ROTC program has become their family here at JMU. This is something I found to be a vastly important part of their experiences. No matter how unique our ROTC cadets prove to be, they are all unyieldingly connected to each other. Ultimately, this makes their experiences so much more than their day-to-day lives.
The ROTC experience is truly something unique to what JMU offers students. Humphrise and Curci are only two examples of extraordinary cadets that we are proud of. The rest of the JMU Army ROTC battalion are dedicated and hardworking cadets as well. Check out some more photos of our amazing cadets:
As you can tell, the ROTC experience at JMU is full of amazing Dukes. JMU also supports an Air Force ROTC program for students interested in joining the Air Force military branch after college. With these two amazing ROTC programs at JMU, students are able to participate and succeed in military lives after college all while having a beloved Madison experience. So, next time you see a uniformed cadet on a Wednesday, why not take some time out of your day and get to know a little more about your outstanding classmates?
Photos courtesy of JMU ROTC FaceBook and Joanna Curci