ASCC grad awarded ROTC contract
The recent Field Training Exercise (FTX) by ROTC classes at the American Samoa Community College (ASCC) saw the main campus malae transformed into a military camp ground, as the cadets in the program practiced battlefield strategies and combat survival techniques.
This semester’s FTX had a special twist in that it included a Contract Ceremony for Cadet Raelynn Aliitasioaitulagi Tuilefano Mapu, an ASCC graduate currently in her third year of the Simultaneous Membership Program with the 411th Engineer Battalion at Fort Shafter Flats, Hawaii.
The daughter of Joe and Jeannie Mapu of Nuuuli, while visiting home Raelynn elected to have her Contracting Ceremony held among the ASCC ROTC classes so that her family could attend.
Being contracted in an ROTC program entitles the Cadet to various benefits such as a monthly stipend ranging from $300-500 depending on the level they have reached in their studies of Military Science and Leadership. Contracted cadets will also qualify for a full time scholarship of up to four years. If the student is in the Army Reserves, they will be considered a Cadet receiving an E-5 pay conducting officer work when participating in Battle Assemblies. Also, getting contracted allows a student to compete for an active duty slot when commissioned.
Captain Saipale Vaouli, currently heading the ASCC ROTC program along with SFC Kitzengen Moliga, explained that in order to get contracted in ROTC, a student must meet certain criteria. In addition to maintaining a grade point average of 2.5 or better, the candidate must become medically qualified via the Department of Defense Medical Examination Review Board or Military Entrance Processing Station. Candidates also have to meet the Army height and weight standards and pass the Army physical fitness test. Having met all the necessary requirements, Cadet Mapu received her contract award during the FTX at ASCC in a brief ceremony conducted by visiting dignitary LTC Kevin McKay as her family and the entire roster of the College’s ROTC students looked on.
After graduating from ASCC two years ago, Mapu initially continued her ROTC training at UH Hilo, then transferred to Hawaii Pacific University and continued to cross train with ROTC at UH Manoa.
“Times were tough living in Oahu, where I was a full time student aside from ROTC and I also had a job,” she recalled. Her days began with her leaving home at 4:30 a.m. and not returning till after 10 p.m. “The ROTC program at UH Manoa is no joke,” she said. “It is indeed the real deal and cadets travel miles each morning to be there on time for formation because it is a determining factor in one’s performance.”
With her ROTC now secure, she feels confident in facing the new challenges ahead. “The program is competitive but I want to make the cut for active duty when i commission,” she explained.
Mapu draws inspiration from her strong ties with her family here at home. “People have asked me for advice in regards to the military and college life,” she reflected, “and one thing I tell them is to never forget the Man Above, your family, and where you came from, because many people stand tall like a mountain when success is in their hands, but I believe it is those who remain humble when they reach the top whose success is the most genuine.”
With Cadet Mapu’s achievement providing an example of what can be achieved through dedication and hard work, Captain Vaouli expressed his hopes that more local ROTC students will strive towards a similar achievement.
“My main goal is to continue to contract more students into the program and provide scholarships to pay for school off island,” he explained. “My other goal is to ensure these students meet the requirements to get contracted and get commissioned, and are well prepared physically and mentally for the next level of ROTC training. I hope to see more students becoming Officers in the United States Army through our local program here at ASCC. There is so much potential here. We just need to tap into it.”
Captain Vaouli, himself an ASCC graduate who returned to work with the College’s ROTC program last semester, shared his view of how ROTC enhances the overall learning experience for ASCC students in several different areas.
“First, it teaches students to become leaders,” he said. “Trainings help build confidence and self-esteem. Also, ROTC training challenges students to manage their time better. Every task, regardless of how minimal, is given a suspense time.”
Vaouli also emphasized how ROTC training can lead to advantages both during and after military service. “ROTC is a great opportunity for students to pay off their college expenses and get commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army,” he said. “In the civilian world, there are people with Masters degrees that cannot find a job after college. Most civilian jobs require that you have work experience. Becoming an Army officer will guarantee you both a job and extensive work experience.”
For more information on the ASCC ROTC program, call 699-8820 or stop by their headquarters located on the upper floor of the ASCC Gymnasium.