Many students spend their summers sleeping in or working to earn extra money. This past summer, two University of Georgia Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets spent their summers traveling abroad and being paid for it.
Kristin Espiau was one of 16 cadets nationwide selected to go to Santiago, Chile, to enhance her Spanish language skills and to immerse herself in the local culture. She spent the weekdays in classes and exploring the city, and on the weekend she worked with local children, backpacked through wild terrain and skied in the Andes.
"The view from the top of our mountain crest was not so far fetched as to be from a flashing scene in Lord of the Rings," she said. She also tried picorocos (raw barnacles) and enjoyed the local culture by dancing late into the night. As part of the curriculum, she was also able to explore the scenic coast of Valparaíso and Viña del Mar
Renae Cochran was one of four AFROTC cadets that took the journey to Kiev, Ukraine, for an intense Russian language immersion program last summer. To Cochran, the most memorable parts of the trip were the breathtaking beauty of the Black Sea, the somber feeling from the visit to a former Soviet nuclear missile site, and all the friends she made. She visited Eastern Orthodox cathedrals, ancient Greek ruins, and learned about the history of the city.
"Kiev was an interesting mix of the old and the new and stark contrasts," she says. "You can see a satellite dish on a centuries-old building and people with stern faces that will turn surprisingly friendly once you are off of the street." The four weeks she spent in Eastern Europe were "more than anything [she] could have imagined."
These programs are two of numerous programs in the U.S. and overseas where cadets are paid to travel and learn. In addition to offering unique summer traveling opportunities to its cadets, UGA's AFROTC program also offers competitive scholarships that cover all fees and tuition (with an extra annual $900 for books) for eligible full-time college students. Graduating students who complete the AFROTC commissioning program are guaranteed a job paying at least $35,000 per year straight out of college. For more information, speak to Captain Magby, AFROTC detachment unit admissions officer, located upstairs in Hardman Hall.