Cadet Matthew Walters – OU Army ROTC Spotlight

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Cadet Matthew Walters is approximately 300 miles from home in Willard, MO. The University of Oklahoma has been home for Walters, where he has made lifelong friends and been a member of the ROTC program. Now a senior, Walters ready to graduate and take the next step in his military career. 

“Going to OU, for me, was a series of fortunately unfortunate events. I wanted to attend a service academy, but I didn’t make the cut based on my math scores–I have never been happier the admissions board made that call,” said Walters. “Here at OU, I’ve made lifelong friends, traveled the world, and learned a lot about myself that I couldn’t have learned at West Point. Attending OU has provided me with opportunities I wouldn’t have anywhere else; I have worked overseas with the Latvian military, studied a semester’s worth of Russian in two months at Indiana University, and spent several weeks 9,000 miles away in Bhutan just to learn about their culture of happiness. None of it would’ve been possible on my own–ROTC paid for every cent. ROTC, especially at OU, is a great way to explore the world, learn a language, and expand your understanding of the greater world in an environment of diverse ideas and people.”

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The Walters family has a background of service to this country. Both grandfathers are Vietnam era veterans with one serving as an engineer during the Tet Offensive. His stepbrother is currently serving as an engineer with the 82nd Airborne. 

Walters was a double major at OU in Russian Language and Eastern European Studies. But once he graduates, Walters may delay his entry into the U.S. Army. 

“I graduate this semester and will receive my commission alongside my diploma. I am, however, also a finalist for a Fulbright scholarship and thus may be allowed to spend a year teaching English in Ukraine before going to Basic Officer Leader’s Course to truly begin my military career,” said Walters. “I will commission this May as an Armor Officer in the Army. Armor Officers lead heavy tank and cavalry/forward reconnaissance formations on the battlefield. Following that, I am set to transfer to the Military Intelligence branch, so I can better utilize my language skills in a way that helps the most people possible.”

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As his time at Oklahoma comes to an end, Walters will carry with him many great memories made during his time as an ROTC cadet. 

“My favorite thing about being a cadet at OU is the experiences I’ve had and the people I’ve had them with. Very few groups in OU are as tight-knit as ROTC. This is because we take one group of people and develop them together over the course of four years. My classmates and I have learned to shoot together, run marathons together, learned together, and even stood watch at 3am in the woods together. We’ve seen each other’s highest highs and lowest lows in an environment that is designed to test our limits and learned from each other in the process. RTOC has given me lifelong friends and lifelong memories,” said Walters. 

The future Lieutenant offers this advice for anyone considering the ROTC program at the University of Oklahoma. 

“Visit the Army’s Cadet Command website and the ROTC websites for every service (Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard) even if you feel lukewarm about that service. Give each one a fair shot in your considerations and you just might be surprised where you find yourself drawn. A mentor of mine once told me to cut a path for every future I saw myself in–to “treat every option as if it was my only one,” and then to take my pick from the ones I get. If Army ROTC is in the mix for you then that’s awesome, I can personally say it’s an amazing experience and worth every ounce of effort you can put into it. It’s hard work and early mornings, but there’s a huge payoff on the other end. Keep your options open up until you are guaranteed your best possible outcome, then clamp down on that one and don’t let go.

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