Inside Mizzou Podcast:
Civic Engagement, Ep. 8
As a public, land-grant university, Mizzou has a proud history of service — from education to healthcare, public safety to our military. Join Chancellor Cartwright for this week’s Inside Mizzou podcast where he talks with ROTC cadets Kim Woods, a senior studying mechanical and aerospace engineering; and Ben Steger, a sophomore studying civil engineering. They discuss the important role that civic engagement plays in our community, as well as commemorate Veteran’s Day and the 150th anniversary of Mizzou’s Department of Military Science and Leadership.
Moderator: [00:00:11] From the classroom to the cornfield, journalism to SEC athletics, the University of Missouri works 52 weeks a year, every year. This is Inside Mizzou — real stories, real discoveries and real impact of the Mizzou community. Today’s episode is called “Civic Engagement.” Mizzou has a long and proud tradition of civic engagement. We develop the military’s and nation’s leaders through our nationally renowned ROTC, and our alumni serve thousands of communities through the Peace Corps or Teach for America. From our Truman School of Public Affairs to our first responders, public service exemplifies the Tiger spirit. Today, we’re here to talk about the role civic engagement plays in our community as well as honor Veterans Day and the 150th anniversary of our Department of Military Science and leadership. Joining Chancellor Cartwright today are Army ROTC cadets Ben Steger, who is a sophomore studying civil engineering, and Kim Woods, who is a senior studying mechanical and aerospace engineering. Thank you all for being here today. We really appreciate it.
Everyone: [00:01:29] Thanks for having us.
Moderator: [00:01:29] Cadet Steger, you’re in your second year here at Mizzou. What originally brought you to Mizzou and ultimately led you to be a ROTC cadet?
Cadet Steger: [00:01:39] So, I started off looking at ROTC to begin with, then I began looking for schools. And what really brought me in was the history and tradition of the University of Missouri. And the program here — this is our 150th year, which is pretty phenomenal. We’ve commissioned over 150,000 officers since our inception. And on top of all that, it’s a very supportive and open community that is very welcoming of the program on this campus and likes to engage with the program. So, when I was looking at schools, this just was the place. And what really brought me in was the story that I’m told about Mr. Rollins, who was Major Rollins during the Civil War, who organized Tiger Company, which defended Columbia against raiders when the Union Army had to head off to fight a battle.
Moderator: [00:02:22] Wow. So, it sounds as if there was a lot kind of going into the planning process to pick Mizzou. But can you tell me a little bit about your plan after college? What is something that you’re going to be doing once you leave Mizzou?
Cadet Steger: [00:02:37] So, after Mizzou I hope to enter into the Army on active duty as an engineering platoon leader. After that point, I’m just hoping to be a good leader in that role, do the best I can. I’m hoping that Mizzou definitely teaches me how to be a good leader and prepares me to become that role.
Moderator: [00:02:51] Yeah. And in preparation for that role in the future, what kind of things are you going to be doing on campus that are going to help you?
Moderator: [00:03:01] So, I’ve been engaged deeply in my engineering studies as well as the ROTC program. I’ve gotten involved in extracurriculars outside of ROTC. I’m on the Concrete Canoe Team now through the College of Engineering, as well as in ROTC I do Ranger Company, which we have a Ranger Challenge this weekend.
Moderator: [00:03:19] Oh, very nice. As a senior, Cadet Woods, how has your time in ROTC shaped your Mizzou experience?
Cadet Woods: [00:03:28] That’s a really good question. For me personally, when I came to Mizzou I was not involved in ROTC at all. I didn’t even know what it was. No one in my family had served in the military. And so, I joined a sorority. I was involved with engineering, focusing on school, but I just kind of felt like something was missing. And so, I happened to live in the same dorm as all of the ROTC cadets, and those became my closest friends, and I saw what they were doing and what they were learning and the relationships that they were forming, and I thought it was really cool. I was just so attracted to that. I played sports in high school and everything like that, and I miss that, you know, growth and development in myself that I just wasn’t getting anymore. And so, halfway through my freshman year I met with our recruiter and happened to join the program. I invested a lot of my time into it and saw a lot of success. And the reason I stayed was because of the people I met for sure. And I had a great few mentors who believed in me more than I believed in myself, and that kind of gave me my passion that has carried over for the last three years in college. Within my sorority, I got involved in our executive board. I was on on-campus jobs through the unions, and then somehow I got tapped into a secret society just this past spring, which was really cool. Something that I’m very passionate about is mentorship, and I think that’s what has shaped me the most coming through ROTC and now expanding it to my other organizations on campus. So, it’s a long story.
Moderator: [00:05:09] So, after graduation I understand that — is your plan to go into the military after?
Cadet Woods: [00:05:15] Yes. I actually graduate in December of 2019, so I have about the rest of the semester and two more semesters. And it really depends. You know, I’m open to working in the civilian world. I put a lot of time and effort into my engineering degree, so if I get a really nice job and it’s something that I love, I have no problem being in the National Guard or Reserves and doing that part time. However, the Army is definitely a part of me now, and it’s shaped who I am, so I would love to be an active component as well. And within that, I have the potential, since 2016 they recently opened up combat arms to females. So, that is something that I’m super interested in — going to Ranger School, possibly being a field artillery officer or something like that.
Moderator: [00:06:00] Yeah. Well, Chancellor Cartwright, we’re able to talk to these two cadets who have told us these incredible experiences that they’ve had within the ROTC program. So, can you elaborate, I guess, about how Mizzou’s ROTC program adds to that student experience?
Chancellor Cartwright: [00:06:17] I mean, I think both Kimberly and Ben did a better job than I can actually do in articulating what it does. I think they really got right to the main points. I mean, the leadership that it takes, the training you to be a leader, how much that leadership then translates even into the broader community at Mizzou beyond ROTC. That’s something we value. That’s something why we want so many cadets here in the ROTC program. I think if you look at the remarkable young people that come into those programs, they all contribute in so many ways to Mizzou. They are leaders. They’re being trained to even be better leaders. But they’re already leaders coming in, and I think it speaks to what Cadet Woods was saying — it speaks to the relationships that you build within a particular group. And we talk about the importance of those relationships for student success, for retention, for graduation rates. Having those relationships where you feel you’re part of a group that has like interests to you makes this place much more like your home. You feel much more comfortable, you want to participate in things, you know others who have similar interests, and I think it just builds on that community that we want everybody to feel here at Mizzou. And I think ROTC is one of those special things we have at Mizzou that builds that community, and we’re so proud of these young people who choose to go into ROTC.
Moderator: [00:08:07] With the theme of the episode or the title of it, it’s called “Civic Engagement.” And so, let’s kind of talk about how important civic engagement is to education and the campus community at large.
Chancellor Cartwright: [00:08:21] You know, it is really important. It’s why we’re here. When we’re educating students, when our faculty are working, when our staff are working, it is about what we’re doing for society and how we continue to educate people who are going to be contributing positively to society. And you contribute positively through a lot of the things we do in civic engagement. It is Teach for America. It’s all of those things where you have people who want to go out and use the knowledge that they’ve gained at our institution to help others and to work with others. And I think that’s what we want to be emphasizing. At Mizzou, we’re about how do we continue to contribute to society — how do we help people in Missouri, how do we help people in the U.S., how do we help people in the whole world. And I think that’s what this is about to us, is helping people to learn how to go about that and all of the things that they do when they are students here is what adds to that and makes it possible for when they leave here — that they’ll continue to do it.
Moderator: [00:09:31] And so, let’s talk about how do you think this tradition of service — civic engagement — makes the Mizzou experience unique to both of you and your student experience?
Cadet Steger: [00:09:45] So, in my experience I’ve noticed that Mizzou does a great job among the student body of giving back to Columbia, of giving back to the state that supports us. So, we have plentiful organizations here in Columbia itself, which serve the local community to serve a town that keeps the campus here. At the same time, we have groups like MU Extension, our research groups, which help out the state and help out our nation in total. And I’ve just noticed that Mizzou definitely focuses very heavily on student engagement and student service.
Cadet Woods: [00:10:13] Well, personally, a little more close to campus on Mizzou I think that within our corps of cadets, they are very diverse and very involved on campus here. Many of them are in the National Guard, so they serve the state that way. We also have reservists who serve the nation and, more specifically, just a vast variety of majors and organizations and clubs, and I know when anything’s going on around campus, all we have to do is throw it in a GroupMe and someone can answer on it and speak on it. And if you look around on the day that we have to wear a uniform around campus, you see people in all sorts of classes, all sorts of buildings and activities just helping out and doing the right thing, and that’s kind of what we live by as our Army values. And when we’re in our uniform people notice — they notice what we do. And I think the best way to help our community and influence our school is by just getting out there and doing things other than just ROTC. And I think that our program does a great job of that.
Chancellor Cartwright: [00:11:25] You know, civic engagement also helps with all of the things we’re trying to do for educating our students, getting them prepared for what they’re going to be doing once they leave the institution. And one of the things that I find remarkable is that it’s similar to the activities that we follow with Missouri Method, where you’re having that practical experience. Engaging with our community is also that practical experience.
Moderator: [00:11:56] So, I’m really curious about how you said “Army values.” What are some of the values which ROTC has? As someone that is not a part of ROTC, I’m just a little curious about them.
Cadet Woods: [00:12:09] Well, we have this cool acronym we use. It’s called “leadership — L.D.R.S.H.I.P” It stands for Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity and Personal Courage. I have to go through it in my mind to say them all the right way, but it’s definitely something that we live by and hold each other accountable by, too. Because, you know, we’re all human, and sometimes we have to be reminded of things. But, I mean, it applies to so much in my life personally, and Cadet Steger mentioned how we’re both involved in this company called Ranger Company, and within ROTC we kind of do more. We do extra, we put in more time, we — like I said, we hold each other accountable. I’m going on a tangent. But specifically within Ranger Company, we practice these values, and we teach them to the underclassmen. That’s kind of where the mentorship comes in, that’s kind of preparing us for life after the university, whether we go active duty or in the civilian world. Just from the start we teach them, you know, discipline and self motivation, development, hard work. You know, mental toughness, things like that.
Moderator: [00:13:25] What does that acronym mean to you, Cadet Steger?
Cadet Steger: [00:13:28] It’s a governing principle for your life. Loyalty — looking out for the people around. They care for you, you care for them. Duty — I mean, in our case in the military, it’s our job to stick to what we’re told to do. At the same time, for anyone, I mean, you have a duty to someone — if it’s your family, your friends, your community. It’s who are the people that matter to you, and what is your obligation to take care of them. And, just down the list, Respect — being nice to one another. You know, making it a better place by doing so. Selfless Service — helping each other out. Honor — making sure you’re staying of character, making sure you’re doing the right thing no matter what. Integrity — it’s what it sounds like. It’s being truthful, true to yourself as well true to others. Then, Personal Courage — I mean, just having the strength to stand up when you need to. It’s giving the people around you the strength to stand up when they need to. I think that, to me, it’s a goal to live by, it’s a guideline. I think that, bringing it back to our campus, it’s definitely exemplified by our campus, on every corner.
Chancellor Cartwright: [00:14:32] You know, Cadet Steger was one of the first students that I met when he was a freshman. I remember you came to my house. I think it was — was it Parent’s Weekend?
Cadet Steger: [00:14:41] Parent’s Weekend, that’s right.
Chancellor Cartwright: [00:14:43] He actually came up and introduced himself to me. And it just shows me the type of leadership that we have in our students here. Because to take that initiative, to be able to come out, introduce himself, let me know what he’s thinking of doing — it shows that we made a great choice in bringing him here and having him to come to be part of our institution. We’re proud of all of the people that do things like that. So, thank you. It’s great to know you for well over a year now.
Moderator: [00:15:14] Well, on that note, thank you all again for being here today. We really appreciated it. But one more thing before we all leave. You excited for it? You ready?
Chancellor Cartwright: [00:15:21] I’m ready.
Moderator: [00:15:22] What’s an astronaut’s favorite part of a computer?
Everyone: [00:15:30] (Silence)
Moderator: [00:15:30] We’re thinking hard about this.
Cadet Woods: [00:15:33] It’s got to have to be…
Chancellor Cartwright: [00:15:35] Something about space.
Cadet Woods: [00:15:36] Yes, yeah.
Moderator: [00:15:36] The space bar!
Everyone: [00:15:41] (Laughing)
Moderator: [00:15:51] Our audio engineer is Aaron Hay. Our featured music is “Forest Park Rapsody,” composed by MU undergraduate and music composition major Ben Colagiovanni. You can find more information about Ben and his piece on the Inside Mizzou webpage. Make sure to join us next time, and keep an eye out for the chancellor’s newsletter to stay on top of what’s happening at Mizzou. Thanks for joining us on this episode of Inside Mizzou. See you around the columns!