Senior Spotlight: Joe Yope, ROTC First Lieutenant

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Siandhara Bonnet

Senior Joe Yope balances ROTC, Pals, Football, NHS, and being a student.

by Siandhara Bonnet, Editor-in-Chief

Q: What activity do you participate in?

A: ROTC (He also participates in Football, PALs, and NHS).

Q: How long have you been in ROTC?

A: This is going to be my third year.

Q: How did you get involved in ROTC?

A: I just signed up really. Honestly, I was planning on going into the military, which I decided not to, but then I decided, the best choice is to do ROTC, so I just signed up, and then that’s how I got involved, via the school.

Q: What is a memorable moment that you’ve had as a student involved in ROTC?

A: The first one that comes to mind is the, they do SLS, which is Summer Leadership School, and, so they take the top cadets in the corps, at the time, up and coming, and they send you, basically [to] boot camp. So you wake up really early in the morning and go to sleep late at night, and I did that all in a boot, like a walking boot, because I sprained my leg in football, so that was intense.  I’ve been writing all my college papers about that. The most memorable was that because I had to overcome that with the boot, and then boot camp, so no pun intended.

Q: In what ways have your experiences in ROTC changed you as a person or student?

A: They’ve helped me with leadership and commanding…being able to make groups and understand what I’m trying to portray. I’m a camp counselor, so it helps a lot when I’m dealing with a bunch of kids. When I was at camp it helped because I was used to dealing with a lot of flights because we do flights, and I use to be a flight commander and a squadron commander, so I’ve been used to dealing with people, so that helped out in the long run.

Q: If you could go back to the beginning of your involvement in ROTC, what would you do differently that could be a positive impact on you?

A: Probably when I first became a flight commander because I didn’t know what I was doing and I was kind of really lax about it, and I was kind of just like, ‘yeah, whatever. I’ll let you do whatever.’ I probably would’ve kind of stepped up a little more and actually done my job better than what I would. Maybe not have been as lax and more strict so I could understand the rule because that correlated when I was a squadron commander.

Q: Who in ROTC has been an inspiration or mentor to you?

A: Probably Colten Lammonds and Aspen, and all the graduated seniors from the years prior, Kristen, which was two years ago, they all really influenced me a lot and how to actually be a leader in ROTC because I just became friends with them and then hung out with them. I already knew how to conduct myself, in the corps, because of them, and they really just helped me. They molded me as a leader…I looked up to them and so that’s how I kind of formed my leadership style off of them was.

Q: How has involvement in ROTC affected of created friendships and relationship?

A:  Because I’m a part of a lot of different activities, I know a lot more people, so it just grew more friendships. I probably wouldn’t have known and had as many friends as if I wouldn’t have been in ROTC. It’s like a big family there.

Q: Was there a time when you wanted to quit? What changed your mind?

A: Yes and no because doing football, it’s a lot harder in the fall because we’re busy all the time and we don’t get to do anything, like this year, because I’m on Varsity. I just go in there for the class period and that’s basically it. I haven’t been able to do any of the service or, really, to do anything, so sometimes stuff like: ‘Is it worth it to do this’ or ‘is it worth it’…and then I always remind myself, ‘Yeah, I mean, if I didn’t want to do it, then I wouldn’t have done it when I started as a sophomore.’ And then I just cancel out my negative thoughts and just, ‘You know what? It is worth it. Why not have fun?’

Q: What advice do you have to offer to freshmen and other underclassmen who are in ROTC or who are considering joining ROTC?

A: Really, give it all you’ve got. It’s not…for Freshmen you don’t get to do all the perks of being an officer and doing it, obviously, and you just stick it out and you will make a bunch of friends. Just be outgoing and stuff like that, it’s really easy. Just be friendly and do your job, really, and just be smart about it. I mean, if you’re like, ‘Oh, I don’t know,’ you should try it out, and if it’s really not for you, don’t waste your time, but if it is, if you feel a calling for it, then yeah, most definitely, go for it, because then you’ll have a lot of fun with all of the activities you do, like drill and PT. It’s really fun, you’ve just got to give it a chance.

Q: Do you transform into a different person when you’re in ROTC versus regular student versus football?

A: No. I kind of keep it level throughout the whole thing because if you change your personality, depending on your person, then it’s weird when you hang out with every mix of people and you’re like ‘Oh, well I’ve got to change for this person, I’ve got to change for this person.’ You should be yourself regardless. Honestly I don’t, I just, I’m the same person. If you meet me in ROTC, I’m going to act the same way if you meet me in football, if you meet me in PALs, if you meet me in anything, I’m going to be the same person, generally. That’s who I am. I’m pretty open about it.

Q: How do you balance your studies/academics and friendships AND ROTC? What do you do for fun or to relax when you’re not in ROTC?

A: I don’t know, I just do it. The secret to it is just find time for everything, so if…like, when I’m off of football, I do my school work, and when I have free time off of that, I try to find time for PALs because we have to do service hours for that, so whenever I have free time for that, I go to that. I don’t know how I manage it. I just do it. It kind of comes naturally. It doesn’t bother me to get busy with all this stuff because I kind of just keep it in my mind and figure out what I need to do, and really that’s how I do it, it’s just natural. I never stop until I’m actually home.