Last Updated: November 6th, 2023By Tags: , ,

FORT KNOX, Ky., – Distinguished visitors from learning institutions all over the nation received an inside look at Cadet Summer Training at Fort Knox, Ky., July 12-13, 2023.

Distinguished visitors get an inside look of Cadet Summer Training at Fort Knox, Ky., July 12, 2023. Distinguished visitors got a first-hand look at the various training events Cadets participate in while at CST. | Photo by Kate Koennecke, Ohio State University, CST Public Affairs Office

The distinguished visitors participated in the Forest Hills Climbing Course, rappel training, and the Field Leader Reaction Course during their visit. These training events are the same events that Cadets complete while at CST.

Lt. Col. Daniel Laasko from the University of Cincinnati explained the importance of having the distinguished visitors experience CST for themselves.

“It’s important that they are able to see what the Army Reserve Officers’ Training Course provides outside of the classroom,” Laasko said. “This is a great opportunity for centers of influence to see firsthand what Army ROTC does through experiential learning and leading.”   

The distinguished visitors came to Fort Knox to get a better understanding of CST and Army ROTC. The visit displayed opportunities for the different institutions to integrate these programs within their own communities and learning institutions.

Right after climbing up a rock wall at the FHCC, Anadeli Bencomo, the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Texas at El Paso, spoke on what she has learned during her time on base.

“I am positively surprised with the diversity I see in the Cadre here in Fort Knox,” Bencomo said. “There are so many misconceptions about CST, but now I see that the Cadets are motivated and engaged, and the instructors are wonderful.”

Michelle Vasquez, a post-secondary counselor from Evanstown Township High School in Evanstown, IL. visits Cadet Summer Training at Fort Knox, Ky., July 12, 2023. Vasquez hopes to take what she has learned from her visit to inform high school students on military and ROTC pathways. | Photo by Kate Koennecke, Ohio State University, CST Public Affairs Office

Hector Vasquez, a generalist counselor from Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, IL. and Michelle Vasquez, a post-secondary counselor for Evanston Township High School in Evanstown, IL., also decided to accept the invitation to visit CST so they could increase their understanding of military pathways for high school students.

While the married couple watched their peers participate in rappel training, they discussed what they hope to bring back to their individual school districts after this trip.  

“My school doesn’t have a Junior ROTC program, but I know there’s been chitter chatter over the years about starting one,” Michelle Vasquez said. “As long as I can come back armed with information, I think I could help build the conversation.”

While Michelle Vasquez is focusing on how she can start the conversation in her school district, Hector Vasquez is trying to learn about how he can further promote Army ROTC as a pathway to success within his district.  

“I think this could be a really transformative experience to help kids find the direction they want to go in,” Vasquez said. “I would like to see super high achieving kids take advantage of the Army because they can use the skills that they’ve learned to help others.”

Michelle Vasquez explained that before she became a military liaison, she had “no idea” that the mission behind Army ROTC is building better leaders. While helping her high school students decide what path to go down after they graduate, Vasquez promotes the Army ROTC pathway through the lens of leadership and personal growth.

During the visit, the distinguished visitors also had a chance to test their personal leadership skills by attempting the FLRC. The goal of FLRC is to enhance communication and problem-solving abilities.

While completing the course, many of the distinguished visitors were given the opportunity to experience team building on a different level. Rob Kelly, the President of the University of Portland, explained what the challenges he experienced while working on small team.  

Rob Kelly, the President of the University of Portland, waits to hear about his mission at the Field Leader Reaction Course in Fort Knox, Ky., July 13, 2023. Kelly believes that Army ROTC programs can provide valuable experiences for his students, staff, and faculty. | Photo by Kate Koennecke, Ohio State University, CST Public Affairs Office

“The most challenging part is understanding what other people’s skills and gifts are, and how to help them amplify the best of what they do, and at the same time, being able to complete the mission,” Kelly said. “Every person here has outperformed and done more than what they thought they could do.”

The goal of CST is to encourage Cadets to be all that they can be. The distinguished visitors can now relate to what the Cadets have been through, and how the Army builds better citizens.

About the Author: Kate Koennecke
Kate Koennecke
Kate Koennecke is a rising junior at The Ohio State University double-majoring in Political Science and Strategic Communications. This summer, Koennecke will be working as a Public Affairs Intern, covering events throughout Cadet Summer Training this summer as a Photojournalist. Koennecke has had many experiences working in the public sphere, including interning for the Ohio Statehouse for the Ohio Democratic Caucus in the Senate in the fall of 2022. Once this summer comes to an end, Koennecke hopes to take back her knowledge of Public Affairs back to the Buckeye state with her.