In the fall of 2018, Tia Pullens was working at Fort Gordon and attending school at Augusta University (AU) in Master of Public Health in Health Management program. She had been through a few major life events, so she turned to exercise to relieve stress and deal with grief. That’s when her supervisor at Fort Gordon suggested she join the Army. At first she thought it wasn’t for her, then she weighed her options and finally decided to join the Reserve Officers Training Program (ROTC) at AU. Becoming a part of the ROTC has changed her life, she was able to complete her graduate program and fulfill her commitment to the military. Along the way she discovered ROTC is so much more than a free education, it’s a transformational program with rigorous and intentional training.
Graduate students who join the ROTC are eligible for the 2-year ROTC Scholarship which includes tuition and fees or room and board along with a monthly stipend of $420 and $1200 annually for books. Awardees must attend a 5-week Advanced Camp at Fort Knox, Kentucky during their program and may accept a commission to serve active duty, National Guard, or Army Reserve for an 8 year period following degree completion. As a result, you can complete your master’s degree for free with ROTC and become a commissioned officer for the United States Army following graduation.
Tia officially started in the ROTC program at AU in the spring of 2019. Tia said her experience in the ROTC program as a graduate student is similar to that of other graduate students. She said, “All of us have regular jobs, responsibilities in school and families to take care of.” Additionally, as part of her responsibility with the ROTC program, Tia attends Physical Training (PT) Monday through Friday from 6:30 am to 7:30 am. For Tia, it was a challenge, getting up early and going to PT but every challenge she encountered in the ROTC revealed the supportive nature of the program. She said, “If it wasn’t for them [her superiors and colleagues], I don’t think I would be here today.”
ROTC isn’t just about physical training though, it’s also a great opportunity to learn leadership skills. According to the AU ROTC program, “During classes and field training, you will learn first-hand what it takes to lead others, motivate groups and how to conduct missions as an Officer in the Army.” Tia said, when she began the program, she was very shy and reserved. The ROTC program pushed her outside of her comfort zone and as a result, now, as a senior in the program she is able to speak in public with more confidence. In reference to her success in the program, Tia’s Cadre, Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Keenan said, “She’s grown exponentially in her skills as a leader. Cadet Pullens’ track record of success in the classroom and in her training is a shining example of how a graduate student can excel as an Army Cadet.”
Currently, there are four graduate students are in the ROTC program at AU. Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Keenan said he enjoys working with graduate students because they, “bring a different level of academic experience into the classroom. They provide a level of maturity in their approach to training and ability to share experiences with their classmates.” For more information about how you can get involved in ROTC as a graduate student please visit the ROTC website.