Building Leaders at Cal State East Bay
- BY Sarah Harris
- January 26, 2024
The Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) is a program that trains Army Officers and helps students pay for college through scholarships covering either full tuition or room/board. Cal State East Bay has a crosstown agreement with UC Berkeley, meaning full-time CSUEB students travel to Berkeley for physical training, leadership labs and other ROTC-specific classes.
Lieutenant Colonel Ezekiel Moreno is a professor of military science at UC Berkeley and is responsible for the overall program. While he mainly teaches the seniors, he said all the staff are very hands-on with correcting the group of over 50 cadets and pushing them to be better. Their shared goal is to create better citizens.
Cadets complete exercises that ultimately assess their ability to lead an organization: plan, resource, coordinate and give orders. “Whether you are a leader in a company, the military, school, your community, church — the skills you learn here are invaluable,” said Moreno.
While the four-year program generally has a defined structure that results in commissioning officers, cadets still have options. For example, they can defer to attend graduate school. Moreno said, “Students can have personal interests and do ROTC. There’s not just one type of student in the program. We work with each one to be successful.”
One of those students is Zain Tahir. After being part of the Army Reserves for ten years, Tahir wanted to take his career in a different direction. Tahir is a graduate student studying public administration at Cal State East Bay. He said, “ROTC has provided me with the mindset that you need to be successful.” Overall, he called his experience highly “educational” and said, “I’m thankful because I feel like I’ve made the right choice.”
ROTC aligned well with the graduate program Tahir is in, which is geared toward working professionals. “East Bay has been really wonderful. The department has been very helpful, and very flexible. Students are set up with the resources and personnel needed to succeed.”
Nick Ashmore, a biochemistry major, planned to attend Diablo Valley College and then transfer to Cal State East Bay since graduating high school. “Both schools were nearby and affordable which allowed me to work while I finished my degree,” he said.
Ashmore had long known he wanted to be part of the Army, but only recently set his sights on being an officer. He was already attending Diablo Valley College when he set his goal of becoming an officer, so joining ROTC just made sense for his long-term plans.
Ashmore has also built invaluable leadership skills in the program. “Since joining ROTC, I've learned more about what it means to be an officer and more importantly a leader — that everywhere you go from the moment you commission as an officer you are expected to carry yourself as a leader; to take care of those below you and uphold a higher standard than everyone else,” he said.
Ashmore hopes to serve as an Explosive Ordnance Disposal Officer in the Army and eventually teach high school history after leaving the military.