Student-athlete Exhibits Drive and Passion in ROTC

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Kala Robertson waited until her junior year to join Appalachian State University's ROTC program, later than most ROTC students. But in a year's time, she has become one of the program's top cadets and is known for demonstrating exceptional personal drive, passion and faith.

What qualities helped her excel so quickly?

"Just listening and paying attention, and acting on what I've been taught," the senior criminal justice major said. "Listening and having confidence in what the cadre tells you has been important."

Robertson, who is from Dobson, graduated with honors in summer 2008 from a Leader's Training Course at Fort Knox, KY. In the five-week training, she earned the highest score of any cadet—including her male peers—in physical conditioning, and a team award in land navigation-orienteering. She also had the privilege of being asked to help teach other cadets.

"The Leader's Training Course showed me that I am where I am supposed to be and I can be good at this. I have a lot of training to do yet, but I went from knowing nothing about ROTC to being asked to teach it a year later to cadets who hadn't experienced ROTC before," she said. "It felt good to be asked to teach other people."

In addition to being a natural leader, Robertson maintains a 3.34 grade point average and balances her studies with her responsibilities as a student-athlete. She runs indoor and outdoor track and cross country. She also has been involved in revitalizing the university's Scabbard & Blade military honor society.

"It's all about time management," she said about her busy schedule.

Robertson would like to someday work for the FBI or the Internal Revenue Service's criminal investigation unit. She is also considering going active duty, or staying in the National Guard which she joined in July.

Robertson's interest in the Army piqued when she saw an ROTC flyer in Appalachian's cafeteria. "I was at lunch after track practice and saw this flyer on the table. I thought, the Army? I could look into that," she said.

She e-mailed the battalion commander, who encouraged her to take the physical conditioning test. "I beat just about everyone," she said, with a smile. The battalion commander then encouraged her to enroll in a military science course to see how she liked the subject.

She performed well in the course and joined ROTC in the fall of her junior year.

Robertson credits Appalachian with offering students plenty of opportunities in leadership development.

"When the opportunity comes, take it and do your absolute best at it. It will open so many doors that you can't see right now," she said. "It may seem like a heavy workload, but I've learned it can be done."