East Carolina University faculty recognized those who are active duty military and veterans, while encouraging students to consider ECU’s ROTC (Reserve Officers’ Training Corps) program.
Tim Wiseman, assistant vice chancellor for enterprise risk management & military programs at ECU, said the university offers two ROTC programs: the Air Force ROTC program and Army ROTC program.
Wiseman said Memorial Day has a personal effect on him as a veteran, after serving 26 years in the army before his job at ECU.
“Memorial Day means a lot as we reflect on those, particularly those that have given their lives in protection of our country,” Wiseman said.
Wiseman said the two ROTC branches at ECU give students the opportunity to receive leadership training which gives them a pathway into serving for their country.
He said members of either ROTC program can earn their degree at ECU while simultaneously receiving basic credentials through ROTC and can go on to become an active duty servicemember.
Students can get involved by consulting ECU ROTC recruiting officers, according to Wiseman. He said the recruiting officers address initial questions and they are able to help students enroll in classes at ECU while working their ROTC courses at the same time.
Wiseman said the feedback received about ECU ROTC graduates who become lieutenants, when they arrive at their first duty station from commanders in both the Air Force and Army, is usually positive.
“They’ve (lieutenants) mastered the fundamentals of leadership training, and they are confident, so when they arrive at their first duty station they are very happy with the product,” Wiseman said.
According to Wiseman, ECU lieutenants are sometimes immediately deployed to places like Afghanistan or Southwest Asia due to the university’s great track record.
Wiseman said many ECU alumni, those of which who are still in service, stay in touch with faculty at ECU because they remain appreciative for the education they received.
“Some of them are lieutenants, captains and even majors, that still have a close connection and appreciation for the instruction they received here in our program that prepared them so well for their successful military careers,” Wiseman said.
Capt. Nihar Shah, a recruiting officer for ECU’s Air Force ROTC, said he never expected to go into the military until he came across the Air Force ROTC booth at ECU’s freshman student orientation. He said he fell in love with the program, and 12 years later, he is still in the Air Force.
Shah said within his first year, in the air force, he was an engineer in a program where he got to go out into the field with special forces troops and call an airstrike. Two years later, he went on to get his masters’ degree, and he now gets to work on advanced, next-generation technology.
“Every job has been amazing and better than the last one somehow,” Shah said. “Every time I get to a new job, I think there’s no way this could be better than the last one, and it (each job) gets more and more fun.”
According to Shah, it was a unique experience to be able to go from the technological side of development to being able to mentor students at ECU.
“Those are skills that I developed from ECU,” Shah said. “I’m able to utilize those skills and succeed here and teach those skills to the next generation of Air Force officers.”
Shah said he has always had a special interest and feelings toward Memorial Day. He said he went to nearly thirty funerals within the span of six months to present military honors, and this action left him with a newfound appreciation.
“It’s one of those things where you see the members who have fought in wars past,” Shah said. “It’s how the military continues to respect and appreciate all their sacrifices.”
Senior construction management major and veteran, Brian West, said he was grateful to be able to attend ECU after serving in the army active duty to pursue his future in a career path he’s interested in.
West said his he has been able to seek financial help through the university after being honorably discharged from the army.
“I got my G.I. Bill after I got back (from active duty) and it’s helped a lot with paying for school,” West said.