Northwestern State junior Scott Stearns never thought he’d be standing at the head of his own ROTC battalion when he came to Natchitoches three years ago.
But the four-year National Guard veteran relied on lessons learned from his military family and his own determination to become the commander of the 67th Demon Battalion.
“When I started the program, I didn’t think I would end up in this position,” said Stearns, who moved around the country throughout his childhood but spent most of his high school years in DeRidder. “You meet other people, and you think they’ll do way better than you.
“But I’ve gained a lot confidence in the ROTC, and I’m honored to take this position. Not many people can say they’ve been in charge of their own battalion, and we’ve got a lot of good cadets that should make this year a successful one.”
Stearns’ responsibilities include managing cadets in a number of tasks throughout the year, including flag raisings on holidays, the color guard and firing the cannon during NSU football games and organizing the ROTC’s participation in Operation Christmas Child. The Cadet Lt. Colonel also serves as the liaison between cadets and ROTC instructors, ensuring effective communication between the two parties.
Stearns’ father served in the Army as both an enlisted soldier and an officer, advising Stearns to position himself for the latter route.
“I enlisted in the National Guard at age 17 (with parents’ permission), but he highly encouraged me to go the officer route if I wanted to pursue active duty, which is I want to do,” Stearns said. “The (NSU ROTC) is preparing us to be a platoon leader in the Army upon graduation.
“I grew up seeing all the respect and prestige that comes along with being an Army officer, and that partly influenced my dream of being an Army officer. But I really wanted to go into a career that made a difference and inevitably helps people, both here at home and in other places.”
Stearns has already made a difference in the National Guard.
Stearns, who will turn 21 in September, started as a combat engineer, handling demolition and infantry tactics based out of Baker, La.
Now he’s part of the Chemical Emergency Response Force Protection, and he’s trained to participate in mass decontamination in case of a major biological attack.
Stearns said his father, who served in the infantry, told him infantrymen do similar tasks each day.
So Stearns, an Industrial Engineering Technology major, is using his interest in math and science to serve his country in a different way.
“I originally wanted to go into the infantry like my dad, but he thought I would want variety in my daily tasks,” Stearns said. “As a kid, I enjoyed building things and playing with Legos.
“I still want something combat-oriented like my father and other family members, but now I can use the physics and calculus that I’ve learned.”
Stearns said his ROTC and National Guard experience have been invaluable, and he encourages students who have the slightest interest in the Army to visit the NSU ROTC at the North Hall – Gov. James A. Noe Military Science Building (across from Turpin Stadium) or visit rotc.nsula.edu to learn more.
“The ROTC attracts people from all walks of life, so you learn different ways to work with different people,” Stearns said. “You learn to stress professionalism.
“It’s been a really good ride here at NSU.”