One Day in the ROTC
Junior Mitchell Roy-Raia appears calm and stress-free as he sits outside the Student Union, basking in the bold sun. Passersby would probably never guess that just a few hours before, he was engaged in some of the most intense physical training one could imagine.
Roy-Raia is a member of the Reserve Officer Training Corp., or the ROTC program. Peaceful moments like this are rare, but are a welcome reprieve from his hectic schedule.
His Day Begins at 5 a.m.
Roy-Raia opens his eyes at the sound of his alarm and sluggishly peels away from his bed. He's used to early mornings by now, having gone through basic training in addition to his time in the ROTC. These are, however, the moments of his day where he wishes he could fast forward to the weekend.
After packing his belongings, he embarks on the 3.3-mile drive in his beat-up truck to Canisius College, where he and his peers have daily physical training. His whole body aches as he does sprints, push-ups, sit-ups, and suicides with a sandbag on his back. Those exercises eliminate the sleepiness.
These strenuous workouts are intended to keep the ROTC members fit and active, in addition to helping them gain the energy to continue with their busy days.
If he isn't at PT, Roy-Raia and his peers are doing 'Ruck Marches.' At the instruction of his superiors, he will pack his Ruck Pack - the Army's fully equipped backpack - with tools and items that weigh almost 60 pounds. Pack in tow, he meets his platoon around 5:40 a.m., and they march together in unison for miles.
For Roy-Raia, these are some of the best bonding moments. As he and his friends march, they proudly sing Army cadences, proudly living the moments that most only get to see in movies.
Energized from his morning workout, Roy-Raia returns to North Campus with schoolwork on his mind. As an English major, his passion is writing. At basic training, the other guys passed his work around as reading material.
As he travels from his Fiction Workshop to Contemporary Lit, he constantly receives texts from the underclassmen in the ROTC program. In addition to the normal student's worries of assignments and deadlines, Roy-Raia's mind is occupied by the concerns and problems of his cadets. He's their leader - their role model.
It is a juggling act that keeps his mind occupied all day - balancing his scholastic responsibilities with the responsibilities that come with a leadership position in the ROTC. He is in charge of keeping tabs on the younger members and reporting the information to the seniors and eventually to the program's teachers (known as the 'Cadre'). His class, the junior class, is quite possibly the busiest - the younger members are still learning, and the older ones act as guides to the juniors.
His balancing act doesn't end with ROTC work, however. As his day winds down, his mind will often turn to his friends. The hardest part of joining the ROTC program for him was the drastic change in his social life. Days he used to spend playing video games and hanging out with friends have been practically eliminated during the week. His friends from outside the program are supportive, though, and as he chats with them in the dorms or over a meal on campus, he is thankful to still have those friendships.
Otherwise, he says, he would burn out.
It's about 10:30 p.m. and Roy-Raia has finally returned to his room, body and mind wholly exhausted from the day's events. He makes it a point to stay out of his room for as long as possible, because when he finally gets to his abode, he wants it to be a place for simple relaxation - an escape from the outside world.
When Roy-Raia is finally ready to call it a night, he brushes his teeth and sets out his clothes for the next morning, mentally prepared for the next challenge. Some students groan at the thought of six hours of sleep, but he is thrilled if he can get to bed by 11 p.m. and wake up at 5 a.m. When he is well rested, he will adventurously take down whatever is next.
As Roy-Raia sighs and sprawls out, he is thankful to be resting once again, savoring every moment of inactivity. He knows sometimes things feel frenzied and it would probably be nice to have a bit more time to himself, but at the end of the day, when he looks back at all of the things he has accomplished in the past 24 hours, he is satisfied. He attributes his success to the ROTC program and anxiously anticipates thriving in the future.
He'll be prepared for just about anything.