The University’s Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps includes 28 students who are learning and training right on campus to become America’s future military leaders.

The NROTC educates and trains qualified men and women as commissioned officers in the Navy and Marine Corps. The NROTC’s mission is to develop its midshipmen mentally, morally and physically, instilling them with the highest ideals of duty, honor and loyalty. It offers students the opportunity to pursue a military career.

Members undergo a rigorous application process, applying to LSU, the NROTC program and Southern University. Members are required to become cross-enrolled students at both universities.

Students accepted into NROTC receive scholarships that pay for their schooling. In return, members make a commitment to serve in the military for four years after graduating.

 Sociology senior Zachary Spears compared the program to the nation’s military academies.

“It’s pretty much the same thing as the service academics except you get that college experience,” Spears said.

Members participate in physical training three times a week. They also conduct marching and rifle technique drills on Tuesdays. On Thursdays, NROTC has leadership labs potential midshipmen can attend.

Along with drills, NROTC midshipman take part in various local activities, such as attending Kickoff LSU and marching in the Presidents Day Parade. On Feb. 4, they are marching in Uptown New Orleans’ Krewe of Alla Parade.

Plant and soil systems sophomore Philip Mooney said he enjoys the opportunities NROTC provides.

“We get the chance as midshipman to really explore,” Mooney said. “Last semester, we ran the ball for the Bayou Classic football game from Baton Rouge to New Orleans.”

The NROTC’s structure is very similar to the Army’s ROTC program. The two programs compete in many ways, including in drill and physical competitions such as Corps Wars. Spears said there is a small rivalry, but they are all on the same team.

“It’s really a one team, one fight mentality,” Spears said.

Midshipmen are able to notice the positive changes in their life since beginning the NROTC program. Biochemistry freshman Samantha Jackson sees the improvements in every aspect of her life despite only being in NROTC since August.

“I don’t think there is any college program that you can be a part of that helps you build character so much,” Jackson said. “I think that this program just has really inspired me to be so much better in every single way.

The NROTC challenges its members to grow as individuals and leaders. Their numbers have dramatically declined in recent years. Mooney noted how the number of midshipmen are down from nearly 80 members a couple of years ago. The current number is 28. The midshipmen challenge anyone interested to join or find out more information.

“Hey, we’re a family and if you got what it takes, and you think that you have the leadership skills, come here and test them out,” Mooney said.