Cadet Stories

A Tight-Knit Group of ROTC Scholar-Leaders

The Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program is an integral part of many college students’ lives because it allows them to pursue a degree while completing military leadership training. Read more about what it’s like to be a college student and ROTC Cadet at APU.

Dominick Jacob Betancur ’20

Major: Kinesiology with a focus on applied exercise science

City of residence: Covina, CA

Title: CDT Battalion Commander (West Side)

Career goals: I branched Infantry, so I will be commissioning as an Infantry officer, go to IBOLC, after that go to ranger school, and hopefully earn the right to wear the ranger tab on my left shoulder. I hope that my journey through ROTC and the obstacles I will face in the future will help me develop as a leader that my men will be willing to follow and respect.

How did you get involved in ROTC? I always wanted to join the military ever since I was a little kid, but I have never heard of ROTC before my senior year in high school. My original plan was to enlist right out of high to serve my four years in the Army. It wasn’t until one of my linebacker coaches my senior year of high school was talking to me about the Army since he served in the Army in the early 2000s with the 82nd Airborne with one long 15-month deployment under his belt. He recommended that I look into going the officer route instead, so I did some research, discovered ROTC, got in contact with the recruiting officer at the CMC ROTC program, and this started my four-year journey in ROTC. After my first year of ROTC, I really enjoyed it and became motivated to graduate college and commission as an Army officer.

What has been the most positive aspect of your experience in APU’s ROTC program? I enjoyed everyone in the APU ROTC program and this made me want to commission as an officer even more, because I now know that there will be these types of people in the actual Army. People who care for you, help you, and work hard for you because they know that I will do the same thing.

What has kept you motivated during your time in ROTC? Being in ROTC showed me the kind of camaraderie that I had when I was involved in sports. This is very important for me because in order for someone to enjoy their work, they should be able to enjoy the people around them, and that’s how I felt. I had these kinds of relationships from being involved in sports back in high school and experiencing this in ROTC made me fall in love with it.

Is there anything else you think people should know about ROTC? If you have a chance, you should participate in the Bataan Death March. It’s incredibly difficult rucking 26.2 miles with a 35-pound rucksack, but I cared deeply about what the march symbolized. It was meant to give people just a taste of the suffering that the American and Filipino soldiers had to endure when they were taken prisoner by the Japanese Imperial Army and forced to march 60 miles to a POW camp. It was just inspiring to see thousands of people come together for all of those soldiers who perished and those who survived who have to live on with those terrible memories.

Te’Ata Gutierrez ’20

Major: Public relations

City of residence: Kihei, HI

Title: Cadet Company Commander of Azusa Pacific University, Cougar Detachment

Career goals: My goal is to become a Public Affairs Officer in the Hawai'i National Guard. I also aspire to become an event coordinator.

How did you get involved in ROTC? Before attending APU, I was in the Army JROTC program for all four years at my high school. As soon as I was a senior in high school, I applied for the National ROTC Scholarship because I wanted to continue to be in the program. Soon enough, I was awarded the three-year scholarship for a couple of universities, but I decided to be part of APU's Army ROTC program.

What has been the most positive aspect of your experience in APU’s ROTC program? The most positive aspect of my experience in APU’s ROTC Program is seeing myself physically and mentally grow. When I began college ROTC, I remember being very shy, quiet, and doubtful that I was going to make it through the program. I think it is amazing to see how much I have grown throughout my years, starting from a timid freshman cadet to the company commander of the APU ROTC Program. I would have never thought I would make it this far and accomplish so much, and I thank this program for pushing my limits and working hard to reach my goals.

What has kept you motivated during your time in ROTC? The one thing that has kept me motivated during my time in ROTC is the people; without them, I wouldn't be where I am. There have been many people who have gone through this program who mentored and motivated me to do my very best. Because I looked up to the upperclassmen in our program, I strive to mentor and motivate the current underclassmen and guide them to reach their goals. I am excited to see them grow and excel in this program.

How did ROTC prepare you for where you are now? ROTC prepared me for where I am now by allowing me to overcome physical and mental challenges. This program strives for cadets to not only be physically fit but to have the ability to think and overcome stressful situations that require critical thinking. The intent for this program is to prepare cadets to become Army Officers, therefore cadets need to train and start having a mindset as an Army Officer. With the training events and situations that the program put me through, I believe it has prepared me for my post-college career in the military.

Is there anything else you think people should know about ROTC at APU? Although there are hundreds of ROTC programs in the nation, APU’s ROTC is special because it is more than a program. It is a family and community. APU’s core foundation is keeping God First in everything, therefore our ROTC program makes sure that we also fulfill that mission. In our program, we make sure to check up on everyone to see how everyone is doing through mentorships and prayer requests. Our program is very welcoming.

Armando Angel Muñoz ’20

Major: Criminal justice, minor in biblical studies

City of residence: La Quinta, CA

Title: MSIV (Senior) Battalion Executive Officer

Career goals: Law school to become a lawyer after my time in the service

How did you get involved in ROTC? I got involved in ROTC during my second semester of my freshman year at APU. My initial desire to serve as well as the opportunities that the ROTC program provided made it the right fit for me.

What has been the most positive aspect of your experience in APU’s ROTC program? The most positive aspect of the ROTC program is its ability to develop leaders, which is made possible through fellow cadets as well as the leadership experiences provided within the program. Not only does the program equip cadets to become second lieutenants in the Army, but it also shapes more well-rounded, organized, and problem-solving individuals. This is achieved through the guiding hand of classmates above you as well as the allotted leadership positions.

What has kept you motivated during your time in ROTC? My desire to serve others and become the leader I know God has shaped and is shaping me to be has kept me motivated throughout my time in ROTC.

How did ROTC prepare you for where you are now? The program has better equipped me to handle stressful situations, lead others, and ultimately be more selfless, all shaping where I am now. Branching active duty Engineer Corps after I commission in May is no small achievement. I could not have been prepared for this had it not been for fellow cadets and class peers within ROTC both before and now.

Is there anything else you think people should know about ROTC at APU? The close-knit family that is ROTC at APU is truly special, creating not only leaders for the Army, but ultimately more selfless individuals who aim to serve Christ in His calling for our lives. Through the often unseen work and time put forth to become leaders worthy of leading others in the Army, we strive to exemplify the true nature of the Service cornerstone here at APU.

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