Airforce ROTC at Wilkes encourages student participation

Shannon O'Connor, LA&E Asst. Editor

The Air Force Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, otherwise known as AFROTC, aims to help students become a part of something greater than themselves.

AFROTC is an educational program that allows students to prepare for a future career in the United States Air Force. This program is based around building and developing leadership skills while simultaneously earning a four-year degree. Upon completing an academic degree in any major of a student’s choice, he or she has the opportunity to earn a commission as an active duty officer.

Cadet Lt. Colonel Thomas Swain, a Wilkes senior criminology major involved in the AFROTC program, said “For me AFROTC is the main path to the rest of my life.”

The Wilkes University AFROTC Detachment 752 has been around since 1973, and was one of the first detachments to allow women to join. In the 1970s, when the evolution of military service went from the draft to all volunteers, women were finally able to become apart of the military.

AFROTC Detachment 752 has had cadets graduate and achieve more than anyone could have imagined.

Major Melissa Bierma stated: “We have someone that works with the Department of State. We have someone that is the president of a university. We have people that work with the CIA, the FBI. We have people running their own businesses. We have people that are test pilots for the Air Force. We have people working at the Pentagon. We have people building the latest and greatest technology. So many different things, and they all got their start here.”

Through the AFROTC program, the cadets are able to get involved in their community as well as experience the world around them. Participants work with the elderly, and raise breast cancer awareness, visit Air Force bases and participate in a two-week intensive training known as field training.

“It’s a brotherhood that I am proud to be a part of,” stated King’s Cadet Captain Andrew Bonner.

AFROTC also provides scholarship opportunities to incoming and established college students. These scholarships range from partial to full tuition and fees. Cadets that receive scholarships also earn a monthly stipend and an annual book allowance. To receive these scholarships a cadet must be a full-time student, have a GPA of 2.5 or higher, pass the Air Force Officer Qualifying and Physical Fitness exams, meet medical requirements and be enrolled in AFROTC classes.

Anyone can join AFROTC, including students enrolled in neighboring colleges. Detachment 752 currently has students from ten different colleges and universities in the Northeastern Pennsylvania area. To enroll, a student must register for the class through their adviser, then will be expected to participate in two elective courses, an academic class, a leadership class and a group fitness session.

“If you’re looking for something where you know you’re going to have a career and you want that stability in your life, then come and join ROTC. It is something that is going to change you as a person but it also is going to give you people you know you are going to be able to count on for the rest of your life,” stated Cadet Maura Clarke, a Wilkes University sophomore.

For more information about AFROTC on a national scale visit

For more information or to join Wilkes University AFROTC Detachment 752 stop by their office at 169 S. Main St., Suite 112, Wilkes Barre, call 570-408-4860, email [email protected] or visit