ROTC named “Top Program”

Members of the Reserve Officers Training Corps practice shooting in 2014. This year, the ROTC received an award the “Top Program” in their category. 

UNA’s Reserve Officers Training Corps received an award last month for being the “2016 Top Program (in the) Medium Category” in the Southeast.

They beat approximately 30 schools for the title. Examples of other schools in their category include Jacksonville State University, University of Southern Mississippi and the University of South Alabama, said Lt. Col. Cochran Pruett.

They earned the award based on how they compared to other schools in “academic standing, physical fitness and overall grade point average,” Pruett said.

Every semester, cadets have to take the Army Physical Fitness Test, which consists of two minutes of pushups, two minutes of sit ups and a two-mile run. Not only did UNA’s cadets excel on the physical fitness test, they also possessed the highest average cumulative GPA.

In the 2016 graduating class, cadets had a 3.75 GPA on average, Pruett said in an email.

The program has also won awards in the past two years for individual cadets who were the top 10 percent in the nation for the above areas as well as others, Pruett said. Students in the top 10 decide whether to be active duty or a full-time soldier and what branch of the military they join, Pruett said.

“The program is doing very well,” he said. “It’s because of the hard working student cadets that we have here at UNA and the staff that supports them.”

The program has its largest freshmen class with over 31 cadets. There are roughly 70 students participating in the ROTC program. The program is planning to graduate over 15 cadets this year, Pruett said.

“(The award) just has to do with numbers, primarily with recruitment and retention,” Pruett said. “(The award) really is a tribute to their hard work. I think they were very proud.”

The award took many in the program by surprise, said junior and Cadet Joshua Leonard.

“Hopefully, surrounding communities will understand how big of an achievement this is, and it will have a big turnout for the program,” Leonard said.

The program tries to highlight UNA and opportunities that ROTC can bring, Pruett said.

“When people see others being successful, then they begin to see themselves in that role as well,” Pruett said. “We just like to highlight the success of our cadets.”

Pruett said he hopes the award will inspire others to join the program.

“I hope to try to capitalize on (this award) and publicize it so that people know that we are successful and that we are going to be successful in the future,” Pruett said. “That helps with recruitment, so hopefully others will want to be a part of that.”

Editor’s Note: News Editor Kaitlyn Davis contributed to this story.