When you were asked as a kid what you wanted to be when you grow up, how did you respond? As you matured, and it changed from ‘what do you want to be’ to ‘who do you want to be when you get older’, how did your answer change?
Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) Cadet Zachary Allen (he/him/his) was asked these questions by those around him all throughout growing up. Over time, he realized his passion in helping members of his community in what ways that he could. When he grew into his comfort of making high stakes decisions where others may find themselves more hesitant, he eventually decided on the Air Force as a career path. Additionally, it sparked his interest when he found that he had many family members who were involved in different types of military service.
Allen decided to join ROTC, hosted through Boston University, as a way to get started on this path. During out interview, Allen explained that “ROTC is a program that is offered to students who are earning a four year, or higher, degree.” This program allows members to Commission into an Officer position upon graduating. Allen further described ROTC as being “like a four year job interview.”
Allen expressed that through his time in ROTC he had been given the opportunity to “fail” while working under pressure – allowing for personal and professional growth that he may not have gotten elsewhere.
He is currently serving as the Public Affairs Officer, which is a position that handles many different forms of community outreach, including creation of social media posts, managing websites, and keeping in contact with Military and Veterans services on different campuses.
When asked about different skills learned through the ROTC programs, Allen was quick to respond, stating that different leadership was one of the big things he learned through his time in ROTC, but followership was a close second.
“Leadership gets thrown around a lot, because ROTC is about leadership. I will go into the Air Force as a leader in my first year. But I think that followership is even more important,” Allen decided, “it is learning to be a good follower, because you are always going to have someone who is above you. … You are not only learning how to guide people but you are learning how to take criticism and better yourself.” In addition to these skills, he has also learned the importance of time management and prioritization, and how to effectively communicate and work on a team.
“I think that going into the Air Force and the military as a whole can give me invaluable lessons and traits, so when I am out of the military I can use this stuff to help people way beyond my time in the military.”
Allen is currently in his junior year at BSU majoring in Aviation with a concentration in Flight Training. Aside from being an ROTC Cadet, Allen is involved in many different organizations, including the Student Government Association and being a Photographer for the Marketing and Communications team. He will be commissioning into the Air Force at the end of his time here at BSU.