ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Eight students marched down the aisle of the Albany State ballroom this afternoon. In unison, pledging allegiance to the United States as they earned the title of contracted cadets.
Graduate student Brandon Nelson knows the decision took courage and faith.
"Yes it's a scary thing," said the Georgia native. "Because we are in times of turmoil. But at the same time it takes somebody who is really looking past that. Because at the end of the day you can get hurt or injured doing anything in this world. You got to be willing to take those risks for those rewards."
The rewards include scholarship money, monthly stipends and a 2nd Lieutenant rank following graduation.
Waver Harmon and Juan Rozier graduated from ASU and this same program in December.
Harmon will enlist this Spring in El Paso, Texas.
"There are a lot of opportunities through it," said the active duty signal corps officer. "I received my scholarship my sophomore year, so through that I was able to travel to Africa. They paid room and board, tuition and fees. They pay me to come to college and I have a career when I leave."
She was recently in the same seat as these cadets. Right hand raised, eyes wide and ready to become the next face of the US Army.
The man who led her, Lieutenant Colonel Oliver Walton, is just as energetic to lead the new batch.
"I get excited about the folks that are coming in to follow me," said the instructor who has been in the Army for 30-plus years. "Because my son is going to wear the uniform as well, and these are the folks who are going to lead my son."
Lt. Col. Walton said personal courage is what helps the young cadets make what could be a scary leap.
"You cannot allow your fear to immobilize you."
The Cadets will continue to train through the ROTC program at Albany State in preparation for their enlistment when they graduate.