Two years ago, Jane McKibben decided her biology major wasn’t quite right for her. She took a personality test at career services, which suggested several career paths that would fit her best — one was the military.
McKibben immediately remembered a conversation she had in the previous semester with another Webster University student, who was a cadet from the Gateway Battalion. McKibben asked Rebecca Nelson, assistant director of career services, about Webster’s Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program. The next semester, McKibben joined the program.
“If it wasn’t for the ROTC program, I think I still would have been lost with what I want to do with my life,” said McKibben, senior international relations major.
Since McKibben started the program late, she decided to go through an accelerated course. Usually, ROTC is a 4-year program. McKibben said the military is “selfless service.”
“You’re doing stuff for other people and you’re doing a job that requires you to help other people,” McKibben said. “It gives you a sense of confidence and a sense of pride.”
McKibben said her family is proud of her. Her grandfather was in the Marines and her father was in the Army. Since joining the program, McKibben has heard more stories about their time in the service.
“You develop this bigger family even within your own family,” McKibben said.
Webster has an agreement with the U.S. Army through military science programs at the Gateway Battalion at Washington University. Webster also has agreements with the U.S. Air Force through Saint Louis University (SLU). Currently, there are three Webster students in the ROTC program and just more than 100 total from 10 St. Louis-area schools.
each year. The program enrolls 20 to 30 students total from 10 St. Louis-area schools each year.
In April 2012, Webster hired Brig. Gen. Mike Callan as associate vice president for military and government programs.
“We’re looking to make ROTC more visible at Webster,” Callan said.
Callan is working to start a student-run organization on campus, which he called Student Veteran Organization (SVO). The organization could include military support and service projects. Callan said 14 students signed up at the first annual military appreciation breakfast on Monday, Nov. 12.
Lt. Col. Jim Craig, infantry chair in the military science department at the Gateway Battalion, attended the breakfast.
“We don’t spend enough time on campus,” Craig said. “We aren’t visible.”
McKibben also attended the breakfast at Marletto’s Marketplace. The gathering gave students, staff and administrators the opportunity to discuss Webster’s military programs.
McKibben said balancing ROTC, schoolwork, cross-country and work can be difficult.
If she has a cross-country meet on the same day as a lab for military training, she has to choose between the two. If her lieutenant colonel approves her missing a lab for the race, then she can go. She tries to plan out her schedule weeks in advance. McKibben said her father used to tell her, “Sometimes you’ve got to adapt and overcome, and sometimes you have to make a decision and live with it.”
McKibben said she’s excited about the future. She will be in the reserves in St. Louis when she graduates from Webster in May 2013. She hopes to move into an active-duty slot in the next few years.
Callan said Webster wants to be a first-choice school for the military. But one market Webster hasn’t considered is overseas.
“Webster has a great presence on being a global campus, but not from a military perspective outside of the United States,” Callan said.
He said the European command will put out bids for education institutions to provide education on military installations in Europe. Webster will compete for that contract in 2013. It will do the same in the Pacific the following year.