Published: May 8, 2013

In February 2013, the University of Colorado Boulder Army ROTC program was honored with a MacArthur Award, recognizing the Golden Buffalo Battalion as one of the top eight ROTC units in the nation.

CU-Boulder seniors Elizabeth Dare and Nicholas Hollingsworth are part of the battalion and are preparing for their commissioning ceremony on Friday, May 10. Both cadets have been assigned to active duty. Dare, a political science major, will report to Fort Sill in Oklahoma at the end of May, where she will be among the first female commissioned officers to be a part of the field artillery branch. Hollingsworth, a history major, will report to Fort Benning in Georgia for officer training in the armor division.

“The cool thing about the field artillery branch is that it just opened up to females, who are now being integrated into this combat arms branch,” Dare said. “The opportunities are definitely opening up as to where I can go from here.”

Once Hollingsworth completes his officer training that begins next month, he will command a platoon of tanks within a company.

While the transition from college to active duty may be daunting to some, Dare and Hollingsworth say they are both confident in their training to this point, and they are passionate about their decision to join the Army.

“We joined ROTC during a time of war, so we know full well what our responsibilities are,” said Hollingsworth. “I have a lot more training to do in my field specifically, but the Army spends a lot of time and money preparing people as officers, and deployment is part of the responsibility that I accept.”

The Army ranks every cadet in the nation, and that ranking determines whether the soon-to-be commissioned officers go active duty or reserve and National Guard. The Golden Buffalo Battalion has done especially well, and Dare and Hollingsworth credit the cadre for putting some new protocols in place. One of those is a mentoring program.

“One of the things that sets us apart as a unit nationally is our mentoring program, where seniors mentor juniors,” Dare said. “We made that mandatory this year, and it really seems to make a difference.”

When asked about the most challenging aspect about being in ROTC as a college student, both Hollingsworth and Dare mentioned sleep, or lack of it.

“The hardest part of ROTC as a student is waking up at 4 or 5 in the morning during the week to do our physical training,” Hollingsworth said. “We start our day hours before classes begin.”

While ROTC isn’t for everyone, Dare says no matter what your interest may be, take advantage of your time in college.

“I would tell somebody just coming to CU-Boulder to be as involved as you can be,” she said. “Don’t be shy, branch out and figure out who you are. Find something you love and invest in it. Four years go by quickly, but if you invest in something, it will pay off in the end.”

For more information about leadership opportunites at CU-Boulder visit the Newton Chair in Leadership website.