FIU ROTC cadets talk responsibilities and future in the Air Force

Gabriella Pinos/Assistant Entertainment Director

Waking up at 5:30 a.m. to work out, staying up all night planning events and waking up for class the next day may seem arduous, but for Air Force ROTC cadet Dylan Zimmer, it’s all in a day’s work.

A senior majoring in logistics and supply chain management, Zimmer joined the Air Force Reserve when he was 17. For the past four years, he participated in Reserve Officer Training Corps, a college program that prepares students to become officers for the U.S. military.

Now, just one month before graduation, Zimmer is looking forward to becoming a part of the Air Force full-time as a cyber officer.

“I just thought it was a great opportunity, and it’s a job that I know I’m going to love no matter what. It’s definitely has more purpose than going to work every day and getting a paycheck,” said Zimmer.

Dylan Zimmer in his ROTC uniform. Courtesy of Dylan Zimmer.

It was at ROTC that he met Oscar Diaz, a senior majoring in mechanical engineering and an aspiring Air Force pilot. Like Zimmer, Diaz has always envisioned himself serving in the military, and participating in ROTC only solidified that.

Being surrounded by people desiring to become pilots, I decided I wanted to become one as well,” said Diaz.

After they graduate in December 2018, both will train in Mississippi, Diaz for two years and Zimmer for six months. They will then travel to an Air Force base either in the country or overseas, where they’ll serve in their respective jobs.

“I’m super excited to go through it,” said Zimmer. “It’s been what I’ve been working [toward] for four years besides just school, but definitely unlike anything else.”

Taught at the University of Miami, the FIU ROTC curriculum includes an early morning workout twice a week, a three-hour leadership laboratory once a week and a three-credit academic course, according to Zimmer.

Skills such as leadership and time management are also taught within ROTC. Zimmer’s involvement in event coordination, for instance, requires him to contact agencies and companies to rent out spaces and equipment to ensure everything is accounted for.

“Planning things to that amount of detail is something I’ve never really had to do before,” said Zimmer.

Zimmer is also in charge of mentoring seven college students who are also going the program and have various jobs throughout the wing. Although they are at a lower level than him, he believes they are doing well and is grateful to have the opportunity to have guided them for three years.

“[ROTC] was challenging at times, but it was definitely a great way to practice leadership. You don’t get that kind of practice anywhere else, being in charge of large groups of people,” said Zimmer.

In the future, both Diaz and Zimmer plan to serve in the Air Force for years to come. While, Zimmer plans to earn his master’s degree in business and serve in the Air Force for at least 10 years, however, Diaz plans on flying for the rest of his life.

“I wanted to be in the military all of my life and I wanted a college degree. ROTC made both of that possible,” said Diaz.

Photo by Hans Dorries on Unsplash.

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