Student Explores Another Culture Through ROTC

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Few people get the opportunity to spend time in a foreign military. ROTC Cadet Michael Hoffman did.

The political science major earned a spot in last summer's competitive Cadet Culture Immersion Program sponsored by Army ROTC. He traveled to Slovakia and spent five days training alongside members of the Slovak army at the European nation's equivalent of the U. S. Military Academy at West Point.

A junior at Appalachian State University, Hoffman was one of 15 students from the United States selected for the Slovakia trip, which also included cultural visits throughout the former Soviet nation.

"The experience was awesome. I was really excited about it," said Hoffman, who is from Pinehurst, N.C.

"The Army wants future officers to have a worldly view," he said. "I'd never been overseas before, so seeing another culture—especially its military—will help me in the future. As an officer, I can understand how cultures are different."

Hoffman is among the top ROTC cadets in his class at Appalachian. He has a 3.6 grade point average and a four-year ROTC scholarship. Like other students who complete the Army ROTC program, he will be commissioned by the U.S. Army as a second lieutenant upon graduation.

Hoffman has wanted to join the Army as long as he can remember, he said. Both his parents were career military personnel, and his older brother is about to enlist. He'd like to someday be a part of the Army's Special Forces unit.

In addition to his academic preparation, Hoffman is getting leadership experience outside the classroom through Appalachian ROTC's Commando Club, which conducts military adventure training to develop individual discipline, confidence, professionalism, teamwork and leadership skills associated with military service.

"Appalachian has one of the best ROTC programs in the country, and it was my top choice in colleges," Hoffman said. "I like that Appalachian is still a small school even with 15,000 students. I like the dedication the teachers put in and how they know you by name."