| UST ROTC Graduates Prepare to Serve Country |
While many University of St. Thomas class of 2011 graduates ponder graduate school and job searches, Alan Llanas and Linh Tran have a job waiting for them. They will step off the commencement stage ready to serve their country.
As cadets in the UST Reserve Officers Training Corp (ROTC), Llanas’ and Tran’s post-graduation plans are all laid out. Llanas, who will wear his dress uniform at graduation, majored in liberal arts with a concentration in political science and international studies. He was commissioned as an officer in the United States Army on May 12, and will report for duty at Fort Lewis in Washington on June 2. His permanent duty station will be with the 1st Infantry Division in Fort Riley, Kansas the oldest division in the Army that has seen continuous service since its organization in 1917.
Tran, who double majored in chemistry and biochemistry, will commission to the Air Force in December, and she will be stationed at Tyndall Air Force Base in Panama City, Fla.
The University of St. Thomas offers Air Force and Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) programs in partnership with University of Houston. Students participate in drills and attend military science classes at U of H while completing their academic curriculum at UST. UST’s partnership with University of Houston allows students to participate in a large, nationally ranked ROTC program while also receiving a private education in a welcoming and close, but academically rigorous environment.
In addition to learning the leadership skills and professional skills to be better officers, Llanas and Tran earned a well-rounded liberal arts education that will prepare them for life in and beyond the military. Both students received generous scholarships which covered the full cost of tuition, books, meals and housing.
Llanas said he was inspired to join ROTC by the memory of his grandfather, who immigrated to the United States and earned his citizenship by serving in the 82nd Airborne during World War II. Llanas is the first person in his family to graduate from college.
“My grandfather is really my hero,” Llanas said. “I originally wanted to enlist right out of high school, but my friend Clint Mendonca encouraged me to earn my bachelor’s degree and introduced me to a four-star general who taught me that true leaders are few and far between, and I would be better suited as an officer.”
Llanas said his academic interests correlate with his desire to serve his country.
“I was always interested in the news and politics, so the dual concentration in international studies and political science were a natural fit,” Llanas said. “My UST education helped me better understand cultural differences and understand political and military situations around the world.”
Llanas said his life has been enriched by the Catholic foundation of the University and by his participation in the UST chapter Knights of Columbus, of which he served as Grand Knight.
“Having the Chapel of St. Basil on campus and being active in the Knights of Columbus has made me stronger and closer to my faith,” Llanas said. “When people go to war, the main thing you want to carry with you is God. We will all be praying for God to watch over us on the battlefield. But no matter how bad the situation is, God will never fail you.”
Tran was born in Vietnam and came to the United States in 1990 when she was one year old. Tran never dreamed she would enter into military service. After participating in Klein High School’s Junior ROTC program, she saw how the program could maximize her career and personal potential.
“I like being part of something bigger than myself,” Tran said. “I like the structure and the camaraderie and working on a team. Being in ROTC has helped me develop as a leader and has improved my self-confidence and maturity.”
With a double major in chemistry and biochemistry, Tran said she wants to go into the health care field after she completes her service in the Air Force. For now, she is keeping her options open, but considering applying to physician assistant school.
“Going to St. Thomas was a very rewarding experience and the professors in the science department are amazing,” Tran said. “If I were going straight into the health care field right after graduation, I am confident my UST education prepared me for whatever I wanted to do.”
For more information about UST’s ROTC Program, contact Phillip Butcher at 713-942-3409.