Three days a week, Shannen Shadel rolls out of bed sometime around 4:30 a.m. in preparation for physical training at Valley Forge Military Academy.
After a half-hour of strength training drills like sit-ups and push-ups, a half-hour of running and a number of stretching exercises, Shadel completes her morning PT.
And then she comes to Eastern for a day of classes and studying.
Shadel is one of thousands of college students enrolled full time with school as well as with Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, a two-year leadership- based academic program that trains soldiers to become commissioned officers in the Army.
Though balancing the work load is at times difficult, Shadel said, “I really needed a stretching experience, and the Army has proven to be that.”
In addition to PT three days a week, Shadel takes a course that teaches leadership and tactical skills, and features a three-hour application lab.
Like all reservists, one weekend a month she is required to attend drill, where teamwork and leadership are put to the test. This summer, following her first year of ROTC, she has a mandatory five-week training camp, in which she must pass a test.
ROTC is intended to be a companion to college, allowing education to be a priority, while at the same time enabling Army reservists to engage in a more in-depth leadership based training. ROTC is an avenue many Army reserves take when they want a more concrete experience with the Army.
“It is often very difficult for people of infinitely different backgrounds to come together to accomplish difficult tasks, but I have experienced teamwork on a greater level with the other cadets in ROTC than I found anywhere else in my initial entry training,” Shadel said in an e-mail.
Of course, the initial training wasn’t easy. Last February, Shadel took off the spring semester here at Eastern to go through basic training with the Army Reserves. Upon completion of basic training and advanced individual training, she was accepted into the ROTC program at Valley Forge Military Academy.
There are several advantages to ROTC, according to Shadel. Her tuition is paid in full both this year, her junior year, as well as next year, and she also receives a stipend each month, which is intended to help cover the costs of living.
Shadel said she would like to get deployed after college in order to practice first-hand what she has learned, and she is exempt from deployment until completion of ROTC next year.
The values being instilled in Shadel through ROTC and the interaction with other cadets is proving to be worth the time, she said.
“It is about working with others to accomplish a mission, and I find that to be the most rewarding part of the military,” she said.