Published: May 8, 2019 By

With a political science degree and experience as the battalion commander of CU Boulder’s Army ROTC unit, Shane Smith will continue training as a logistics officer at Fort Lee in Virginia, before joining the 16th Combat Aviation Regiment at Fort Lewis, Washington.


Born and raised in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, Smith's main academic focus at CU was on international relations and Russia and Eastern Europe. He will also graduate with a certificate in peace conflict and security studies (PACS). 


Smith says he was drawn to the Army ROTC program as a great way to compromise between paying for college and his desire to serve. This program is one of the top 10 Army ROTC programs across the country and the recipient of multiple MacArthur Leadership awards. 

“I knew going into college that I wanted to serve, and this program and the leadership challenges it offered were very attractive to me. I come from a family of military service on both sides, and I am proud to carry on this tradition.”

Proudest accomplishment

“I am most proud of my time studying abroad in the Russian Federation. I always struggled with learning languages, it never came to me naturally.”

Through his time there and through some serious immersion, he was able to develop a solid language proficiency in Russian. He also was able to collect some “amazing firsthand source material” for his international relations research.

“It was an amazing four months and the best thing I've done during my time at CU.”

Biggest challenge

“My biggest challenge was balancing my time between ROTC and class. They often conflict, and ROTC eats up the majority of the free time that I have during the week.” The program is cadet-led, with the juniors and seniors doing the majority of the day work.

During this past semester, Smith was selected as the cadet battalion commander, making him the senior cadet in charge of running the program—not only here but also at the member programs in Golden and Denver. This meant he had to balance his time to ensure he was keeping up with his classes but also dedicating enough time to managing the organization.

“I conquered it through many late nights and with the assistance of a great staff. Managing this organization has been a team effort, and I am proud of all of us for making it through.

“The program has a high attrition rate, and of the 50 of us who started in my class freshman year, 15 will be commissioned as officers this spring.”


 ...the best way to make the changes you want to see in your life are to get up early and go get it.”
–Shane Smith

What’s next?

After graduating from CU Boulder, Smith will be a logistics officer in the Army. He will report to Fort Lee in Virginia to go to the logistics officer course, and then he is assigned to the 16th Combat Aviation Regiment out of Fort Lewis, Washington, as his first permanent station. 

His long-term goals include graduate education and research in the field of international relations and security studies. He also wants to advance his knowledge and speaking ability in the Russian language. When he leaves the Army, he hopes to work for the U.S. Intelligence Community as an analyst on political/military issues. 

Parting wisdom

“My advice to CU students would be to seek out adversity and a non-traditional experience. Make it your own, and resist the urge to just go with the flow. Sometimes the best things wait upstream. You are in control of your life more than you think you are, and the best way to make the changes you want to see in your life are to get up early and go get it.”