Stephen Bell is a dark-headed, twenty-something junior at Arkansas Tech. He is a University Honors student, working on a bachelor’s degree in history. But he is not your average college student. He is involved in one of the less-noticeable programs of Tech: the ROTC. If you are not familiar, it is the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, which requires dedication and a willingness to serve. Being in the ROTC, Stephen is required to be in physical training each Monday, Wednesday and Friday at six o’clock a.m. His role requires him to be in a class, along with a lab, in military science for three credit hours. He is currently a Platoon Leader, and is more in charge of the other cadets within the program. His duties include helping plan special events, such as the Military Ball or the Out of the Darkness Walk happening on April 7. Stephen puts in around twenty hours per week for ROTC.
Interestingly enough, Stephen did not come straight out of high school from serving in the JROTC programs offered. Instead, he was homeschooled in his hometown of Little Rock, whereas most cadets have that experience to get into JROTC. Following in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps, Stephen has consistently wanted to become an officer in the military. With this in mind, Stephen came to the Alumni House on his third day at Tech and started getting involved with the ROTC program here on campus. And with ROTC, he has gotten the opportunity to sign a contract in which he will become a lieutenant for 6 years following his college graduation.
“It’s given me a really good outlet here at college. My grades probably would not be as good, I probably would have been getting in a lot more trouble if I had not been given this consistent schedule, this rhythm every week. It’s a job, you know? It’s a class but it’s also kind of a job. You’ve always got something to do, you’ve always got somewhere to be, you’ve got people under you, people above you. So it’s just a good – for me, anyway – it’s a good support system. It keeps me on a rhythm, keeps me working, and not slacking off,” said Bell.
Between keeping up with University Honors and the ROTC program, Stephen does not have time for much else. Although when he does have time, he previously got involved with the intramural Ultimate Frisbee team, which he enjoys. He regularly goes to the movies, his favorite genres being anywhere from horror to black and white films. As a history major, Stephen enjoys reading books, especially nonfiction and history books. He particularly enjoys the World War I era of history. Although, Stephen states that “ROTC comes before much else.” For him, it is always class first, ROTC second, downtime last. After his contract is up with the military, Stephen plans on getting his master’s in education and becoming a professor to teach history.
Overall, Stephen said the main thing that ROTC has taught him is leadership and dealing with people. Stephen said that ROTC gets “people from all over the place. All different majors, all different interests, all different kind of walks of life, and you’ve got to deal with them. We’re constantly switching out leadership positions, so a working underneath people you don’t really get along with, being in charge of people you don’t get along with. And, I think more challenging for me, being in charge of your friends. I went to high school with some of these guys, and then you bark at them. It’s kind of awkward.” College has taught him some important skills as well, such as time management, literary skills, reading and summarizing.
His role at Arkansas Tech as both a student and as life during and after the military shows promise. His intriguing interests and skills that he is continuously learning from college and the ROTC program have the potential to influence others and benefit himself. Stephen is building both a bright future and a long resume of accomplishments from his involvement on campus.