University of Vermont

CESS Student Honored at UVM Army ROTC Awards Banquet

John Helme, a senior in CESS’s Elementary Education program, and a cadet in UVM’s Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program, was this year’s recipient of the ROTC Award (formally the Gold Scholarship Key Award), presented to him at the UVM Army ROTC Green Mountain Battalion Awards Banquet, held Saturday, March 29, 2014, at the Hilton Burlington.  The ROTC Award is given each year to one cadet in each ROTC graduating class, in accord with criteria set forth in Army, Air Force and Navy regulations, recognizing that cadet “For outstanding performance in officer training, for maintaining a high standard in academic achievement and leadership, and for displaying exceptional interest in all matters pertaining to Defense Preparedness and National Security”

At the beginning of his senior year, John was chosen by his command to be Cadet Battalion Commander for all cadets in the Green Mountain Battalion, which includes students/cadets from UVM, Saint Michaels, Champlain, Castleton, Middlebury, and SUNY Plattsburgh, in New York.  It was from this sizeable and exemplary group of young women and men that John was chosen for his award. 

John says that being a member of ROTC program for all four years at UVM has given him the tools necessary to perform his duties as a commissioned officer in the Army Reserve, which he will become upon graduation.  It has also taught him the value of both hard work and sacrifice.  At six o’clock three mornings a week when other students were either sleeping or maybe just getting to bed, John would already be up and out doing his physical training, along with his fellow cadets.  In addition, there were the weekly leadership labs at Camp Johnson, in Colchester, the Vermont National Guard Headquarters, and home to Vermont National Guard Joint Forces Command.  And of course, the annual weekend-long fall and spring FTX’s, or Field Training Exercises, this past year held at Camp Ethan Allen Training Site.  According to Lieutenant Colonel Tim Knoth, Professor of Military Science at UVM, the FTX experience is “oriented upon developing the skills and attributes that we most desire in our future Second Lieutenants, including mental toughness, adaptability, sound judgment, physical fitness, and most importantly, strong moral character.” 

In conjunction with completing his ROTC responsibilities, John will graduate in June from UVM with a CESS degree in Elementary Education.  John says that he came to UVM as an engineering major with a three-year ROTC scholarship, which commits him to an eight-year service obligation after graduation.  But after three semesters in engineering, he said, he made the decision to switch to education because he enjoyed tutoring in math and working with children.  John’s other volunteer efforts at UVM have been varied and interesting, including volunteering at Fletcher-Allen Hospital during his junior year for four hours every Sunday in the Taylor Room, the ICU waiting room, and serving as a community advisor at Redstone Lofts, the new on-campus independent student apartments.

Currently, John is doing his student teaching internship in a second grade classroom.  After graduation, he hopes to teach in the local schools, and expects to remain in the Burlington area to live and work for the foreseeable future.