By Jay Greene
As he steps to the edge of the plane, high in the sky, Kyle is about to do something that is the result of tons of training and mental preparation. He is in the first in his line to go and he can feel his heart pounding.
He closes his eyes and, in seconds that seem like moments of eternity, Kyle jumps into the blue abyss of the sky. Kyle Joyce is an ROTC student.
The 21-year-old criminal justice major and native of Urbana, Md., has always been a team-oriented individual.
“I have to stay active,” he said. “I can’t just be a ‘normal’ student…I was never just a student, I always had something going on.”
He played high school football at Urbana High and was planning on playing football at Towson while participating in the ROTC program. He had a change of heart and decided to focus on his career in the ROTC program.
“During your freshman and sophomore year [ROTC] is just an elective,” Joyce said. “Once you get to your junior year, you have to sign on the dotted line.”
Joyce signed his dotted line during his sophomore year. “I knew I was ready and I knew this is what I wanted to do,” he said.
During his senior of high school, Joyce had several interviews for nationwide scholarships. In his freshman year at Towson, he received a three-year scholarship.
Joyce is considered a cadet, according to Captain Joseph Mucci, the recruiting operations officer at Loyola University of Maryland.
“His determination is a great asset to our operation,” Mucci said.
A cadet is a rank in the Army, Joyce said. But a cadets are different from soldiers because they are not yet fully affiliated with army. In order for cadets to become officers, they must graduate.
Joyce’s schedule is a fit to his active personality.
A typical day for Joyce begins at 5:30 with PT at either Loyola’s campus, or Unitas Stadium at Towson University.
“We do running, push-ups, sit-ups…they’re usually pretty tough workouts,” he said.
After the workouts there is a consolidation to discuss any announcements, and then the students are dismissed to their classes.
Classes tend to be one of the challenges, Joyce said.
“What people don’t realize is our classes are at Loyola…we’re cross between two campuses,” he said. “In the middle of our day, we have to drive to Loyola and get back [to Towson] in time for another class you might have.”
Joyce said that will be changing; ROTC students were cleared to receive early-registration benefits.
For students who are looking to get in to the ROTC program, Joyce said that it can’t be done unless students have the education.
“As hardcore and as high speed of a cadet you are,” Joyce said, “if you can’t pass your class, that other stuff doesn’t matter all.”
One of the things Joyce said he will miss the most are his buddies in the program, some of which he has known since day one.
He said it took a while to get to know the others in ROTC, but as time progressed he made friends by rooming with others and getting to know them.
“If you’re going to go into the program get to know those guys,” he said. “It’s the closest thing to a relationship…there are people that will do anything for you.”
Joyce said being part of the ROTC program is “totally worth it.”
“I wouldn’t give it up for the world,” he said.
On any given day you can find Ariel Breidenbaugh, 20, of Jarrettsville, practicing away in one of the practice rooms in the College of Fine Arts building. If you follow the sound of the clarinet, you’ll eventually find her.
After her first year at Towson, she’s done so much from marching to playing in the orchestra pit. And as she reflects on her first two semesters, she offers some advice to students who are thinking about going into music.
“If you really love what you do, there’s a place for you,” Breidenbaugh said. “If you’re willing to learn and become savy in what you’re learning, employers look for that. If you set up yourself as a valid candidate, it shouldn’t be too bad…Towson really prepares you, too.”
The clarinetists plans on going to a Master’s program after graduating from Towson University.
Jay Greene, reporting