Meet Taylor Edwards, Class of 2017
Hometown: Woodbridge, VA
Why did you join Army ROTC at UNC?
I joined ROTC my junior year, and I really love it. At first I was skeptical because you have to wake up at 5 a.m. and have to devote a lot of time to it, but it really taught me to step outside my comfort zone. It gave me a lot more confidence, and it brought me closer to a lot of people that I may not have otherwise met.
I had a select view of the world and everything around me, but ROTC really opened my eyes to a bigger picture. It focuses on a bigger picture of life, not just what’s right in front of you and what you’ve always known.
What can students expect throughout the program?
For first year you have to take one class per semester, and it’s pretty light, mostly on tactics and what a normal army unit would do. You have physical training (PT) three days a week and one two-hour lab. And there will be that steady progression from your first year to your senior year each semester that you take the classes.
As you progress to the higher classes, it’s more focused on leadership, instead of the tactical aspect of it. You’ll go more in depth about ethics and what you think about policies that are passed in the government. Now as a senior, we talk a lot about leadership, especially what it means to be a good leader. They really help you with your strengths and weaknesses to improve your leadership skills.
I came here for a tour the summer before my senior year of high school and fell in love with the atmosphere, the look of the campus, and the Psychology department with its promise of small, intimate classes and research opportunities. Surprisingly, Carolina offered me more money in scholarships than any of the in-state schools I got into, which was an added bonus on top of my early devotion to going to this school.
If I’ve learned anything from my time at Carolina, it’s just say “yes” to any opportunity.
Sometimes your professor might ask if anybody can volunteer to put in some work on a project on a Thursday evening. Even if you have plans to grab dinner with your friends, just say “yes.”
Other times, a cool company or person might make an appearance on campus, but a project deadline is approaching fast. Even when you feel like you can’t get away from the library for a second, just say “yes.”
And especially when you get an email that says “This is an official invitation to media week for Super Bowl LI. Are you able to come?” Just say “yes.”
I guess I need to explain that one.
In the fall semester for my Advertising Copy and Communication course, one of my professors coordinated with a program at FOX called Fox Sports University. We worked directly with a group called PROcast that takes real content created by athletes and posts to Fox Sports social media, their website and the live broadcast.
PROcast had just been acquired about a year before, and they wanted to use the FOX Super Bowl as a chance to raise awareness about the PROcast brand. Throughout the whole semester, our class split into groups and worked on plans for communicating the PROcast brand around the super bowl on their social media and in-person at Media Week.
Since we’re working around sports we had to keep things competitive, so each of the groups competed in our pitches to see whose work would be used. Our team won after hours and hours of preparation.
After that, I thought I wouldn’t hear from them again. I started the new semester and continued on barely thinking about the project I just finished when the craziest email I’ve ever seen popped into my inbox: an invitation to Media Week for the Super Bowl.
Fox Sports flew us out to Houston and toured us around their entire operation for the week leading up to the big game. We saw their production studios for their analysis talk-shows, went to field level at the stadium and radio row where all the major networks set up camp.
While we didn’t get a chance to see the game in person, it was still an unbelievable experience. And the long hours we put in outside of class perfecting our pitch and polishing on our work (which they actually ended up using) were all worth it.
Even though it may seem tough at the time, be sure to say “yes” to every opportunity. You never know where it’ll take you.
If you’re interested in a closer look at what we did while we were in Houston, check out the video my friend Wyatt made about our experience.
Meet Emily Drake, Class of 2018
Majors: Environmental Science and Peace, War, and Defense
What do you like most about ROTC?
For me, the best parts of ROTC are obviously the people. I get to know some amazing students who are interested in the same stuff I am. I’ve met not just students but also officers and enlisted people who will be mentors for the rest of my life in all walks of life.
What kind of opportunities has the UNC ROTC provided?
I went to Morocco this summer for 8 weeks on a fully paid-for study abroad program. I have friends who have studied in Germany, Comoros, Jordan, all over the world through the Army, and it’s all paid for. Being out of state, 100% of my tuition is covered, I get a book stipend and monthly stipend, and I also get some really amazing training opportunities. After I graduate, I can have a full time job if I want, or if I want to go to grad school, I’ll have a part time job on the weekends. It’s all because of the U.S. Army.
I will say hands down, the people who come out of ROTC are better prepared and better leaders than anyone else in the country. It’s an amazing program and the Tar Heel battalion are like family to me.
I chose Carolina because I’m from New Jersey, and the weather down here is way, way nicer. I’ve also lived in the same house for 18 years of my life and I came here not knowing anyone. It forced me to grow, and there’s no better place to grow than Carolina. The people are amazing, the campus is gorgeous, and the teachers here will do absolutely anything and everything for you.