ROTC offers scholarship to ‘contracted’ cadets

Baylor ROTC provides some students with scholarships in return for contracted military service after graduation. Branson Hardcastle | Multimedia Journalist

By Adrienne Redman | Reporter

Baylor’s ROTC program provides many students with scholarship opportunities in return for contracted military service upon graduation. These scholarships are afforded to “contracted” cadets, or those who have agreed to serve in the military following their graduation from Baylor and are a major draw for students who otherwise may not be able to afford it.

According to Rockwall sophomore Halle Coy, joining the military is something she had “always wanted to do.” Figuring that joining ROTC would provide her military expertise and help her pay for college, Coy met with a recruiter and made her decision to join.

According to Coy, having ROTC experience can even help increase the salary of an enlisted student upon graduation.

“If you just enlisted, your pay would be significantly less,” Coy said.

Streetman junior Drew Garcia has a similar story. Garcia, a transfer student from McLennan Community College, was drawn to ROTC in part for the scholarship opportunities.

“I kind of looked into it, saw that [ROTC] did a program with Baylor, and started that process so I could get the years I could pay for out of the way with MCC,” Garcia said. “Then once I won my scholarship I came here.”

Garcia also remembers his grandfather’s 20 years of military service, and said that his legacy also helped his decision.

“It was the family thing, like following in my grandfather’s footsteps, but also so I could put myself through school,” Garcia said.

For some Baylor ROTC students, the idea of joining ROTC was never up for debate.

Nolanville junior Kayla Wilder comes from a military family in which both her mother and father were nurses for the army. According to Wilder, the GI Bill paid for one-year of college for Wilder and her three sisters, but financing the rest was up to them.

“My older sister came to Baylor,” Wilder said. “She did ROTC because she heard that they would pay for everything and she got a four-year scholarship.”

Following her parents’ advice, and in her sister’s footsteps, Wilder decided to continue the family legacy during her time at Baylor.

“It seemed like a pretty great gig, having a job out of college and people to pay for the things that you want to do in life.”

Wilder fondly remembers her years as a military kid—moving around every two-to- three-years as her parents worked in various hospitals. However, the ROTC program at Baylor differs from that experience, according to Wilder.

“This is not like that, this is more like learning the basic stuff about combat,” Wilder said. “I wasn’t expecting that really, and it’s different than what I’ve experienced throughout my entire life.”

Although their individual experiences may differ, having a shared passion has helped her family bond together. Now, as she looks forward to commissioning as a Lieutenant upon graduation, Wilder knows she can lean on her family for support and understanding.

Wilder wants to pursue a medical career, and has plans to attend medical school while serving as an army officer.

“I think it’s definitely made us stronger as a unit, knowing that the majority of us are involved in the same thing,” Wilder said. “We make fun of my little sister a bit because my mom, dad, me and my older sister are Army and then she’s air force. It’s nice that even though we might not be going in to the same fields of work, even though those aspects of our lives aren’t the same, we have ways of just being able to connect with each other on that level.”