Last Updated: July 2nd, 2024By

FORT KNOX, KENTUCKY—Cadets with 5th Regiment, Advanced Camp, conquer through the Confidence Course on Fort Knox, July 2, 2024. The Confidence Course pushes Cadets to their limits, testing their endurance, resilience, and solidarity. Throughout a series of exercises, Cadets are tested on their physical capabilities, facing the challenge of either completing the test or receiving a “no-go.” Each cadet is given two chances to successfully complete each exercise.

Cadet Isabella Roldan, from University of California, Davis shares her perspective on the exercise. “I feel like the purpose of the exercise today is to gain more confidence in yourself and see what you’re capable of,” said Roldan. “It’s physically and mentally tough, especially as a female, because sometimes it seems like men have it easier. You want to reach their level, so it’s about seeing more in yourself than you think you can.” For Cadet Roldan, the biggest challenge lay in her upper body strength and height, but her determination to keep trying stood out as her greatest asset.

Roldan’s journey to ROTC began with her enlistment in the Army Reserves. “As a private, I didn’t see much potential for growth,” said Roldan. “I felt that becoming an officer would allow me to do more for myself and others. My goal is to go to vet school and then serve actively in the army. I’ve always wanted to be a vet and realized I could do both.” The Reserves helped fund her education, but she found she enjoyed the army more than she had anticipated. The prospect of becoming an officer feels far more rewarding than staying a private.

Cadet Lillian Sawyer, from Ohio University, decision to join ROTC was influenced by her family’s military tradition. “Every male in my dad’s family has served, so it’s a generational thing,” said Lillian. “I’ll be the first female and the first officer in my family to join the army. My parents wanted me to go to college, and ROTC seemed like the best route to achieve both college education and military service.” Lillian aims to serve actively in the army for as long as possible before pursuing a career related to her major.

For Cadet Jada Parris, (college), the confidence course was an exercise in both individual strength and teamwork. “It’s about learning your strengths and abilities, but also working as a team. Even though it’s yourself against the obstacles, you have your team behind you, encouraging you to keep going.” Jada’s self-motivation was her greatest strength, while a particular obstacle, the weaver, proved to be her enemy.

Parris’ inspiration to join ROTC stemmed from her early experiences with JROTC in middle and high school, coupled with her family’s history of military service. “When I graduate, I hope to branch into aviation or medical services,” said Parris. “If I branch into aviation, I’d like to fly Chinook helicopters, and if I get medical services, I would go into MEDEVAC.”

Through the confidence course, these Cadets not only test their physical and mental limits but also solidify their commitment to their team. Their stories reflect the diverse motivations and aspirations that drive individuals to join the ROTC, each seeking to make a difference both in their lives and in the lives of others.

About the Author: Ayiana Andrella