As an Air Force ROTC cadet at Tufts University, my week is full of excitement! As a freshman, I have ROTC commitments on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays throughout the academic year. Tufts is an ROTC Crosstown school, meaning it offers Army, Navy, and Air Force ROTC programs, however, classes, Leadership Lab and some physical training take place at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). I belong to Detachment 365 which is made up of MIT Air Force cadets, as well as crosstown cadets from Tufts, Harvard, and Wellesley.
Tuesdays start with a bang--it’s uniform day! As an ROTC student, I am required to wear my uniform to all of my Tuesday classes at Tufts, and then to my classes at MIT. This was a bit hard to get used to, considering it makes me the best dressed student in my 9-person English class. However, it is great practice for how to properly wear and act while in an Air Force uniform. And an added perk is that students tend to hold the door open for you more often.
Right now, I have about 3 different Air Force uniforms I may be required to wear on Tuesday. One outfit is is my Physical Training gear, another is khakis and an ROTC polo, and the third is my Service Dress Blues (listed in order of fanciness). Next year, I’ll often be wearing Airman Battle Uniforms (ABUs).
At around 1:20pm, after my morning classes, I meet up with the other Tufts Air Force cadets to head to MIT for class and Leadership Lab. Fortunately, Tufts provides us with Zipcars to make the 25 minute trip.
My AS100 class is for freshman Airmen to learn about military customs, courtesies, and history. This class is not super difficult and is truly a safe place to learn about what is expected of you. Once class ends around 3pm, all of the Detachment participates in Leadership Lab.
Leadership Lab (LLAB) is basically a full military simulation. During this time, cadets have certain leadership roles and must follow a specific chain of command. We are typically learning new skills then given tasks to demonstrate our understanding. We’ve been asked to interpret maps, practice wargaming, or use proper marching techniques to race to a destination. During LLAB we also have career days, which gives us the unique opportunity to listen to and network with high-ranking Air Force Officers. LLABS are my favorite part of ROTC--they are always stimulating and give you a taste of your future in the Air Force.
Wednesdays and Fridays
These days start early--Physical Training (PT) day! PT starts promptly at 7am. As a crosstown cadet, I only have to attend PT at MIT once every other week, however if I don’t go to MIT, I still must complete my own form of PT at Tufts.
When we travel to MIT, I roll out of bed around 6:15am, to hop into the Zipcar by 6:35. The car ride always involves singing along to music together in order to get properly hyped for our early workout.
Physical Training with the Detachment is challenging, but very doable. Typically, we alternate running around the MIT track, or doing calisthenics such as push-ups, sit-ups and weights or jump ropes. As long as I’m pushing myself, I can workout at my own pace. The idea is basically to keep you in good shape and ensure that all cadets will excel on the twice yearly Physical Fitness Test. This test is short and only consists of timed running, sit-ups and push-ups. It is truly nothing to stress over.
I arrive back at Tufts by 8:30am--wide awake and happy to have gotten an early start to the day. Sometimes I get a lot of homework done early in the morning. Other times...I hop right back into bed for some quick shuteye before my classes!