Anderson Bento, ‘22, is a Steel Battalion Army ROTC cadet and said that his experience in ROTC is something he would never trade.
ROTC students take military science classes and participate in physical fitness training, leadership labs and field training. Cadets participate in workouts three times a week in the Steel Battalion Army ROTC program.
Cadets also have a traditional class on military science once a week to learn the values of the army, tactics, strategy and the army writing style. Additionally, there are leadership labs weekly on Thursdays to train necessary tactics and skills needed for the army.
“In the ROTC program, you learn how to lead, and I’d say that is the most important thing,” Bento said. “You also learn work ethic and responsibility.”
The workouts for Steel Battalion usually are at 5 a.m. at Rauch Fieldhouse on Goodman Campus for an hour to 90 minutes. Bento said the workouts are intense and prepare students for the Army Physical Fitness test.
“Once you are done (with) your workouts, the day is yours, and you are a regular Lehigh student,” Bento said.
Maj. John Abella, professor of military science and one of the leaders of the ROTC program, said cadets are able to participate in anything that other Lehigh students can. Abella said the program is flexible with student athletes, Greek life and other activities.
“Involvement in other activities complement the ROTC experience,” Abella said. “We want to ensure that our cadets get the best out of ROTC and the best out of college.”
Bento said he is appreciative of the support from the faculty and staff of the program in regard to balancing their lives as a cadet and student. He said faculty and staff are “pretty accommodating” and a lot of faculty and staff understand the importance of balancing work after their own experience in ROTC.
Abella said students can major in anything they want. Some students decide to major in something that relate to the military.
Bento is a political science major and he said his perspective as a cadet ties into his studies.
“In any country, the military is a big player in foreign affairs,” Bento said. “In my comparative politics class, you do presentations on articles and a lot of them have to do with the military.”
Bento said his favorite thing about ROTC is the camaraderie and friendship. He said the cadets are friends and that they form bonds within the program.
Bento’s role model in the program is Ryan Paradise, ’20. Paradise gives Bento rides to their training sessions.
“Ryan is the first face I see in the morning, and he is always positive and gives me a boost no matter what,” Bento said.
Paradise feels the same about Bento.
“He has always been that positive, upbeat kid,” Paradise said. “He is someone that everyone really likes. That’s the kind of person that you love to have in ROTC and want to be in your battalion.”
Paradise said Bento has led warm up drills as a freshman. Paradise said there is a structured, specific way of calling the commands, and Bento has done it the most out of the freshmen. He said Bento is always willing to step up and help wherever he is needed.
University Coordinator Ana Colucci said Abella is promoting a great culture in the program.
“It is truly a family there,” Colucci said. “We had an awards ceremony on Friday, and it was great to see the camaraderie and all the different people that came together to support the cadets and this great program.”
Bento said this sense of family is one of the reasons why he would never consider leaving the program.
“It is definitely hard at times, but it is worth it,” Bento said. “I would never consider quitting because of the people and the experiences that I’ve gotten to have.”