Students adapt to Northwestern’s NROTC program face-to-face training

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Angeli Mittal / Daily Team Leader

Northwestern-affiliated NROTC program students line up for training. Midshipmen practice together several times a week at 6 a.m. as part of the naval program.

When sophomore Weinberg Amaria White pledged to join the Marines as a high school student, she didn’t expect her freshman year to be marked by frequent getting out of bed and getting dressed. from the waist up to zoom in on the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps.

Until three weeks ago, White had never attended an in-person event with Northwestern’s NROTC program. Now she’s in leadership roles and learning to balance her commitments with the rest of her schedule.

“It’s so new to us,” White said. “I’m just tired all the time.”

Sixteen NU and Loyola University Chicago students from the unit train together on the NU campus. Some of the students have lived on campus for the past year, but the unit has not met in person due to university health guidelines and COVID-19.

NROTC students, known as Midshipmen, practice together, take courses in naval science and ethics, and attend a weekly lab where they discuss topics such as surface warfare and meet officers. high ranking navy.

When the program moved to a virtual format, instructors taught Zoom labs and classes, and students practiced individually.

Captain Tyler Thomsen, the unit’s naval officer instructor, joined the NROTC in May 2020 after the program went virtual.

“Coming from the Marine Corps, sitting alone in my apartment with my dog ​​for months on end was just weird,” Thomsen said.

Now, officers are applying the flexibility of remote work to this year’s lineup and occasionally meet midshipmen online. They also coordinate virtual war games and tactical exercises with units in other locations, Thomsen said.

McCormick senior Jacob Trevino had not attended the NROTC programming in person since his sophomore year. Now in his fourth year at NU, he has just become the unit’s battalion commander.

“I haven’t seen someone (being a battalion commander) in person for so long,” he said. “It’s a little hard to remember how the battalion commander in my second year and first year acted. “

As battalion commander, Trevino serves as the liaison between the staff and the rest of the midshipmen. As part of his daily responsibilities, he provides feedback to other aspirants on improving their own leadership.

Trevino said he had gained a new perspective on NROTC over the past year and a half.

“It makes me a lot more excited for ROTC,” he said. “I used to think, ‘Wow, it really sucks that I wake up at 5:15 am on a Friday,’ but now … after going a year without doing this, in a weird way, it makes me realize how point it’s valuable is going to be. “

Loyola, Faith Pacis, said she has also gained a new appreciation for the NROTC over the past year. She plans to become a Navy nurse and said she was inspired by their ships deployed to help with COVID-19 vaccination efforts.

Pacis said she enjoys the challenges of the NROTC, which she believes prepare her for her career.

“It’s like that in the real army, like you’re just being given collateral responsibilities and duties,” Pacis said. “You might not even know how to do it, but you just have to do your best. “

E-mail: [email protected]

Twitter: @avivabechky

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