Army ROTC programs in South Florida have seen a jump in enrollment in the past few months.
The Army ROTC program at UM has doubled its size – now having roughly 24 to 30 cadets enrolled each semester from its previous 12 to 15.
Florida Atlantic University’s Army ROTC program jumped from 26 to 56 within the last year alone.
FAU also serves much of the upper South Florida campuses, including Broward College and Palm Beach Atlantic University.
Florida International University hasn’t seen as big of an increase as UM and FAU, but has still seen steady growth. FIU is the main ROTC school in which “accompany” schools like UM, Miami-Dade College, Florida Atlantic and Barry fall under.
“We interact with them all the time every Thursday. We have a lab, which means we can go down for application skills…going through the woods and finding points…or doing little missions in the woods,” said Melanie Jeudi, a senior and cadet of recruiting at the University of Miami.
“So every week it’s something different, and we get to interact with the other students from the other schools so it’s not only UM. It’s all the other schools together.”
According to enrollment officers at UM, FIU and FAU, the economy seems to be a big factor in students’ choices to enroll in the Army ROTC program because of the generous scholarships offered.
This money helped Jeudi stay in school.
“I was going to drop out and I found out there was Army ROTC so I joined the program, and it’s the best thing I did in my life,” she said.
The economy, however, is not the only factor responsible for the growth of these military programs.
Second Lieutenant Gabriel Gonzalez of the UM Air Force ROTC program said that recruitment techniques have also been changed to reach out to minorities at area high schools.
“That’s how I got here; that’s how a lot of other people in our detachment got here, and we’re grateful,” he said.
The Air Force ROTC programs have not seen as much growth as the Army programs because of the size of the overall military branch.
The Army is the biggest branch of the military, which allows them to spend more money than other ROTC programs on scholarships for high school students and recruitment.
Major Kenneth Harris of the FAU ROTC program views the increase as a two-step process.
The steps, Harris said, begin with a lot of marketing, followed by an even greater amount of student accessibility to the program.
Harris also cites the present generation as being service oriented and attributes this to their willingness to join the programs.
“The current generation understands what’s going on, they see that their country needs help and they are not afraid to answer the call of duty,” he said.