Student leads UIC ROTC with strength, resilience

Raquel Cruz

UIC student Raquel Cruz has been recognized for her confidence, strength and resilience by being selected as the leader of the UIC ROTC program this academic year.

Cruz was among UIC ROTC students who participated in the 35-day Cadet Summer Training at Fort Knox, Kentucky, over the summer.

At the training camp, Cruz was selected to become the group leader based on her scholarly work at UIC as well as her athletic skills and leadership qualities, said Lt. Col. Quentin McCart, professor of military science.

“That’s the quality she has — strength, confidence,” McCart said. “We picked her to be the lead for the UIC program for this next year because of that.”

Cruz, a sociology major, hopes to use the unique skills she’s learned at UIC and through the ROTC program to become a social worker in the U.S. Army.

“I’m the first person in my family to become part of the military,” Cruz said. “Physically, maybe I’m not the strongest, but it just makes you stronger every day by doing something that pushes you off your limits.”

ROTC is a program that allows university students to simultaneously earn their college degrees while gaining qualifications allowing them to place directly into a leadership position, or commissioned officer, following graduation. Students take ROTC classes alongside their UIC classes.

To graduate as a commissioned officer, students must attend one Cadet Summer Training, typically between their junior and senior year, where they demonstrate the skills they’ve learned at UIC and in the ROTC program.

As a UIC professor and lieutenant colonel, McCart said he cares deeply for his cadet students and the positive impact ROTC has on individual students, as well as the entire Army.

“The most important thing about ROTC is, they’re students first, cadets second,” McCart said.

UIC’s ROTC group is one of the most diverse sections in the U.S. Army, McCart said.

“That’s what we’re trying to work on as leaders — increasing diversity so that we are creating an army that is reflective of the nation that we are,” he said.

To learn more or get involved in the ROTC program, contact McCart at

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