Virginia Tech ROTC units help the transition from student to military officer

Jeremy Jorge’s uniform seemed unusually tight as he entered the room for his third and final interview. A senior officer sat inside, and the first thing the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets and Naval ROTC member said he noticed were the stars pinned to the man’s collar.

Jorge’s first meeting with a four-star admiral in the U.S. Navy would help determine his future as an officer.

When the roughly 10-minute encounter ended, Adm. John M. Richardson, director of the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program and deputy administrator for the National Nuclear Security Administration, gave his approval for Jorge to attend the Naval Nuclear Power Training Command’s Nuclear Power School in Goose Creek, South Carolina. At the school, Jorge, who in May 2014 earned his bachelor’s in chemical engineering, will train to operate and manage a nuclear reactor and become a submarine officer.


Jeremy Jorge Corps of Cadets alumnus Jeremy Jorge attends the Naval Nuclear Power Training Command’s Nuclear Power School in Goose Creek, South Carolina.

“I kind of got tunnel vision during the interview,” the Virginia Beach, Virginia, native said. “I’d never seen four stars, let alone eight. But the Naval ROTC staff at Virginia Tech did a great job of getting me ready for the interviews, so I felt very well-prepared for the process.”

Virginia Tech’s ROTC units send commissioned officers into the various branches of the U.S. military each year. The units fall under the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences and include the U.S. Air Force, Army, and Navy and Marines

According to the Corps of Cadets and ROTC units stationed at the university:

  • The Naval ROTC unit is among the top three universities providing nuclear submarine officers.
  • The Air Force ROTC unit ranks in the top five in terms of providing officers to the U.S. Air Force.
  • The Army ROTC unit boasts a 100 percent selection rate for Special Forces candidates over the last three years.
  • The Marine Corps ROTC unit graduates an impressive 95 percent of its officers from the U.S. Marine Corps’ officer candidate school.

Cadets who participate in an ROTC program receive basic military training and officer training for their chosen branch of service. In addition to the drills and activities cadets must perform as members of the corps, those enrolled in an ROTC unit also must join regular drills and activities specifically tailored for their branches of the military.

As cadets near their commission date, their ROTC units work with them to help with the transition to active-duty officer. The Naval ROTC unit not only prepared Jorge for the interview, it also provided a four-year scholarship that paid for his tuition and included a stipend.


Christopher von Gunten Corps of Cadets alumnus Christopher von Gunten qualified for nuclear submarine engineer training with the U.S. Navy.

“The combination of the university, the Corps of Cadets, and the ROTC units provides a broad educational and leadership experience for midshipman at Virginia Tech,” said Capt. Robert V. James, commanding officer of Virginia Tech’s Naval ROTC unit. “This type of experience, which can only be found at two universities in the United States, Virginia Tech and Texas A&M, is something the U.S. Navy values in its young officers.”

Christopher von Gunten, who like Jorge went through the Naval ROTC program, qualified for nuclear submarine engineer training and in May 2014 earned his bachelor’s in mechanical engineering.

“I’d be lying if I said that being in the Naval ROTC at Virginia Tech wasn’t hard,” said von Gunten, a Westminster, Maryland, native. “It is, without question, challenging, and even frustrating at times, but I have no regrets, and it definitely prepared me very well for my military career.”

Having completed their engineering degrees, Jorge and von Gunten each faces stiff competition to become a submarine officer on one of the Navy’s 71 nuclear submarines. Nonetheless, it’s an experience both men say they’re prepared for.

  • For more information on this topic, contact Gary Cope at 540-231-6845.

Virginia Tech ranks among top producers of military officers


  • Highest retention, leadership performance, and commissioning rates of any senior military college

Air Force

  • Ranks in the top five in terms of providing officers to the U.S. Air Force
  • 100 percent selection rate for special forces candidates since 2011

Navy and Marines

  • Among top three senior military academies to provide nuclear-trained officers
  • 95 percent completion rate of Marine Corps Officer Candidate School

Scholarships supplement ROTC experiences

Both Jeremy Jorge and Christopher von Gunten exhibited leadership qualities early in their academic careers, and each earned an Emerging Leader Scholarship, which supplemented their ROTC scholarships.

Having the Emerging Leader Scholarship to cover the costs of uniforms, books, and other items not paid for by the Navy “was huge for me,” von Gunten said.

Learn more about the Emerging Leader Scholarship program.

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