It’s a rainy fall morning. Many students are still in bed, and the sun hasn’t come up over the University of South Carolina’s famous Horseshoe. But the men and women of the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps are outside practicing drill as drizzle dampens the ground.

The NROTC program trains men and women to become leaders within the Navy and other branches of the military, and UofSC student participants say they expect the payoff to make their efforts worthwhile.

“My advice for you would be if you want to do it, to do it, but you have to be pretty committed to it,” said Marine Option Andrew Karasevich, the senior executive officer, following a recent 90-minute drill at 6 a.m..

Karasevich was joined by more than 100 men and women who were working on their knee and arm swings in preparation the Pass in Review ceremony.

Karasevich said he wouldn’t be in college if it weren’t for ROTC. “I enlisted in high school, and getting a partial scholarship is what brought me here rather than through recruit training, so my career path has changed quite a bit because it’s still going to be in the Marine corps, but instead I’ll be on the officer side rather than the enlisted,” he  said.

Midshipman Emily Hupp, the commanding officer for her unit, credited her time in NROTC.

“It’s a lot of work in time, especially being at the top or being a leader in general having a billet, but it’s taught me time management more than I think I would have learned just doing in classes or other extracurricular (activities),” she said.

Command master chief, senior Midshipman Patrick O’Brien, has learned how to manage his life and his time to create an easier time waking up early and successfully going through four years of college.

“Time management, it’s definitely important, so I have a little checklist I make everyday, because I have a lot of stuff so I don’t forget it, so I just go down it and check mark and try to get it all done.”

The participants have opportunities to become leaders of the battalion like Midshipman Hupp to and participate in “summer cruises” to help prepare sailors and Marines for their futures on ships and in command of fleets and battalions. The NROTC students are given access to the same physical trainers as the Division 1 athletes at UofSC.

Some students’ majors creates a situation where they become what is known as a “super senior” or a senior who needs one more semester or year to graduate.  In such situations, NROTC will help these students, like Midshipman and civil engineer major Jeff Eberspeaker, to be able to graduate.

Even though Midshipman Eberspeaker’s friends have graduated, he still feels as connected to them as when they were in school together.

“I don’t know it’s kind of like brotherhood sisterhood kind of like in like the fire,” said Eberspeaker. “My [friends who have] taken off to doing what they’re doing in the Navy, those are my first real friends in college and I still talk to those guys every single day. It’s pretty cool to have that camaraderie with my friends.”