FORT STEWART, Ga. - From July 18 to Aug. 8, Reserve Officers' Training Corps cadets from all over the country participated in the Cadet Troop Leader Training here. Two of these individuals, Cadet Ben Matthews of North Carolina State University, and Cadet Cameron Macdonald of the University of Missouri, received mentorship under officers like 2nd Lt. Maretie Wagner, executive officer of 632nd Maintenance Company, 87th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 3rd Sustainment Brigade, Third Infantry Division.

After approximately 30 days of the Leader Development and Assessment Course, they came to Fort Stewart for CTLT.

"Every day they just hung out with their platoon and kind of learned the jobs of the platoon and the sections," said 2nd Lt. Wagner, who taught things like initial counseling, daily responsibilities, and battle rhythms during her time as a sponsor. "Everyone was involved, all the way up to the division level."

"Everything we've been exposed to in the military thus far has been pseudo infantry stuff," Cadet Mathews said. "So it was cool to come out and see people with an actual MOS actually do their job." The approximately three-week leadership program involved diving head first into working with a real unit as they did field exercises and handled the daily responsibilities of a maintenance unit. The cadets, under the guidance of their mentors, learned how to write counseling statements and NCOERS, and collaborated with platoon sergeants. Such shadowing and emersion was considered an essential and valuable experience that the cadets could take with them on their journey towards commissioning."

"It gave me a lot to bring back to my campus, because as a senior cadet I'm going to be teaching the younger cadets," Cadet Matthews said. "So with a taste of the real Army I feel like I'll be able to help them more."

The experience even made Cadet Matthews change his career plans. He has decided to go active duty once he is finished with his training.

Cadet Macdonald is looking forward to his life as an officer, and hopefully, to getting an assignment overseas. He believes this experience gives him a leg up when it comes to leading soldiers, wherever his career may take him.

"I think that giving a cadet the opportunity to come in for a couple of weeks and be a leader does get them ahead of the game," Cadet Macdonald said.

The cadets chosen for this program were made up of 10 junior year volunteers. Only eight slots were available. The cadets were ranked on an honor of merit list that allowed the top volunteers an opportunity to experience the Army they will soon serve form the inside out.

"It was a very good experience," said Cadet Macdonald of working with the Soldiers in his adopted unit during CTLT. "They definitely opened their arms to me and taught me a lot."