FORT KNOX, Ky. -- The U.S. Army Cadet Command, with an eye toward the type of officers the Army is going to need in 10-15 years, has added two Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) scholarship "categories" to address those needs.

Recognizing that the Army's future leaders will need to reflect the geographic and demographic diversity of the country, Cadet Command has started targeting some of its scholarships to Cadets from urban areas.

And, anticipating the growing technological complexity of the military profession, Cadet Command is targeting some of its scholarships toward students who will major in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) disciplines.

As a San Antonio native, Roberto Rivera III qualified as one of the newest recipients of an Urban Scholarship.

A Cadet at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), Rivera said he enjoyed building cars and castles with Legos growing up.

Now, 10 or so years later, Rivera is still feeding his passion for building things by choosing to do so as an Army officer working as a mechanical engineer. Upon graduation and meeting ROTC program requirements, he'll commission as an Army second lieutenant through UTSA's ROTC program.

Like many Army ROTC scholarship Cadets, Rivera will graduate from college debt-free. Like all Army ROTC Cadets who successfully complete the program requirements and graduate, he'll also have a guaranteed job. Zero debt and a guaranteed full-time job are desirable goals in these days of ballooning college costs and high unemployment numbers.

According to Lt. Col. Alfred Silva, professor of military science at UTSA, the school started awarding Urban Scholarships in the fall of 2012. Currently, his ROTC program has awarded 21 Urban Scholarships.

"What makes the Urban Scholarships option such a great program is that we're not limited as of now on the number of Urban Scholarships that we award," Silva said. He said that the Army ROTC budget limits the standard Army ROTC scholarships that are awarded.

So far, Army ROTC has awarded about 100 Urban Scholarships totaling $2.4 million, according to the Incentives Division, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, G2, Cadet Command.

Just like the Urban Scholarship, the STEM Scholarship was created recently to fill a need.

"Our profession is becoming more and more technical," said Col. Paul Webber, Deputy Chief of Staff, G2, Cadet Command. "There are more and more requirements for Army officers to work in science and technology. The STEM scholarship is designed to recruit and retain officers who have technical backgrounds."

Webber said that the best example of the need for STEM backgrounds is the increased threat of cyber warfare.

"Officers are needed with a technical background to focus on that threat," Webber said.

To date, Army ROTC has awarded 348 STEM scholarships worth $8.4 million.

One Army ROTC Cadet who met the requirements for a STEM scholarship is John Borger, a third-year ROTC Cadet at the University of Michigan. He's majoring in pure mathematics versus applied mathematics.

"Applied math is more science-based, whereas pure math is more theoretical based," Borger said. "There's less computation, more logical arguments as compared to an engineering major."

Borger said one of the things he enjoys about pure math is that it brings together a diverse set of people who must solve a math problem. "That's similar to when we go out on a field exercise," he said. He said he feels comfortable working with people from diverse backgrounds, a skill he realizes is needed in the Army.

To learn more about Army ROTC scholarships, visit www.goarmy.com/rotc.html.

Page last updated Fri September 27th, 2013 at 00:00