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Senior cadets to join ranks

Carolina Wilson | Monday, April 29, 2013

When the 2013 class of Army ROTC cadets graduates next month, a group that has followed a similar path at Notre Dame will disperse to all corners of the country to begin serving in the United States Army.

Senior Michael Dompierre will head to Ft. Huachuca, Arizona in early June to begin officer intelligence training and will then proceed to his first assignment with the 4thInfantry Division, 1st Brigade based at Ft. Carson, Colorado.

Dompierre said knew he wanted to join the Army ROTC when he was a high school student and joined as a freshman.

“When I received the scholarship, I decided it was a no-brainer,” he said. “The Army would pay for school, and I would have the chance to serve the Nation afterwards, which is something I had always wanted to do – especially after 9/11.”

Dompierre said he was surprised by the amount of leadership skills he developed after four years as a University cadet.

“Looking back on who I was freshman year, it seems hard to imagine that I am the same person today as I was then. Our program excels at taking intelligent followers as freshman and turning them into even more intelligent and capable leaders by senior year,” Dompierre said.

He said he is grateful to the ROTC program for preparing him as a cadet and as well as an adult.

“Throughout my time in Army ROTC, I have been pushed and trained to successfully exert my influence as a leader and to get outside of my comfort zone,” Dompierre said. “I feel prepared, as the academic year comes to a close and my time at Notre Dame ends, to become an Army Officer and lead soldiers for the purpose of accomplishing our mission, whatever the American people determine that to be.”

Seniors Arthur Kostendt and Abigail Nichols followed a slightly different path than most cadets. Kostendt and Nichols were not involved in the program their freshmen and sophomore years but instead attended a Leader’s Training Course (LTC) in Fort Knox, Kentucky, the summer between their sophomore and junior years.

This qualified them for enrolment in the Army ROTC Advanced Course, allowing them to commission with the 4-year cadets.

Kostendt said he decided to commission after graduation during the summer of his sophomore year; the University’s LTC program allowed him the opportunity to join the program.

“For me, joining Army ROTC was a perfect storm of circumstances. Although my older brother has been involved with the Marine Corps for almost 8 years, military service was not really on my radar until sophomore year,” Kostendt said. “I received a mass-blast email from the Army ROTC unit, advertising the LTC. It seemed like a great way to entertain my new aspirations, while getting some money for college at the same time.”

Kostendt said he was apprehensive about adjusting to a junior class of cadets that already had two years to bond, but he said he found that life as a cadet at Notre Dame was far less stressful than he anticipated.

“Both ROTC cadre and my fellow cadets made a great effort to ensure that I was up to speed,” he said. “The army has high standards, and our battalion is composed of very high quality individuals, which made adjustment a breeze.”

Kostendt said pride keeps him moving forward toward becoming an Armor Officer in the Ohio National Guard.

“I experience a real sense of honor, camaraderie, and fulfillment when wearing the uniform, which isn’t something I totally bought into before joining, and it’s not something I expected to motivate me once I was in,” Kostendt said. “Though adventure and scholarship money were powerful enticements to join, pride has been a tremendous reward.”

Nichols said she also decided to join the Army ROTC after attending the LTC program in the summer before her junior year.

“It took a little while to adjust to a military state of mind, but after a while I developed a more intuitive sense of the army’s very particular culture which promotes hard work and creativity, but is also extremely structured,” she said.

Nichols said the time commitment has been the most demanding aspect of being a cadet.

“What took me most by surprise was the amount of involvement ROTC requires. It is not just a twice a week activity, but has rather evolved into a full time job, like it will be after we graduate,” Nichols said.

Nichols will attend the Basic Officers Course for Military Intelligence this summer until she goes to her first duty post with the 201st Battlefield Surveillance Brigade in Fort Lewis, Wash. in October.