Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I; send me!” -Isaiah 6:8
How can I focus my education to be a man for others? How can I support the Jesuit vision of service to the world? How can I best use my strengths to serve my church, community, and country?
I asked these questions right after my freshman orientation at Georgetown University. The next day, I walked into the ROTC office and signed up to join the Army.
The Georgetown University ROTC program, known as the Hoya Battalion, prepared me to commission as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army last May, all while achieving a Catholic, Jesuit education. The program included many early wake-ups for physical training on Georgetown’s “Exorcist steps,” weekend trips to Marine Corps Base Quantico for field training exercises, and additional military science classes. The program developed my leadership skills, improved my physical fitness, and gave me the best of friends along the way. It also provided a key community for me in the midst of the isolating Covid-19 pandemic.
The Hoya Battalion is rooted in a rich history. The Corps of Cadets was officially founded in 1830, but a military culture amongst students had existed since the school’s founding in 1789. Georgetown students have paraded for many U.S. Presidents, deployed in the War of 1812 in defense of Washington, D.C., and went on to serve honorably in every major war throughout American history. The program has also been expanded to include students from American University, George Washington University, The Catholic University of America, and the Institute of World Politics.
During the summer between my junior and senior year, I joined 40 ROTC cadets from across the country to attend Cadet Summer Training at Ft. Knox, KY. I passed a weapons qualification test, demonstrated first aid competencies, passed a land navigation test, and was even tear gassed! All the while, experienced Army Officers graded our leadership performance and capacity to work as a teammate.
Although ROTC was time-intensive, I was able to maintain a full course load and extracurricular involvement like any other student at Georgetown. I served as the Director of the Cardinal O’Connor Conference on Life, the largest student-run pro-life conference in the nation. I also served as the president of the Georgetown Bipartisan Coalition, where I sought to heal political divisions between Georgetown University College Democrats and Georgetown University College Republicans. I moderated debates between these two organizations and facilitated non-partisan service events like a 9/11 American flag planting on Georgetown’s campus every fall. I aimed to dignify human life by creating such bipartisan and nonpartisan service efforts that humanized the other and bound us all closer together in community.
Throughout the four-year ROTC program, Cadets discern what specific job they want to pursue within the Army. In May 2021, I was interning for the U.S. Congress when the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack took place. This attack shut down gas pipelines and critical infrastructure on the East Coast. I saw firsthand how cyber warfare affects private and public entities, and how essential cyber operations are for providing national security. I felt called to do something about this, and was commissioned into the U.S. Army Cyber Corps upon my graduation in May 2023. The future of warfare will include cyberspace, and I hope to be a part of it.
In March 2024, I will begin the Cyber Basic Officer Leadership Course, in Ft. Gordon, GA outside Augusta. There, I will spend nine months learning the basics of cyber networks and coding in order to lead a cyber team in defense of the United States. I have a three-year commitment to the U.S. Army, which I hope will further develop my leadership and cyber skills. I also hope to attend law school following military service and am grateful for the financial support my military service might afford me for this!
In all, my participation in ROTC at Georgetown is how I felt I could best contribute to the Jesuit vision of service to the world. My Catholic and Jesuit education taught me that we ought to confront the world as it is, in such a way that uplifts the dignity of the human person through all stages of life. The Hoya Battalion allowed me to fit into that puzzle while developing my leadership skills, finding community, and remaining an active participant in Georgetown’s student life!
By Matteo Caulfield, Georgetown University ’23 (AJCU 2023 Intern)