If anyone had been within earshot of the two military officers greeting each another in Quantico, Virginia, they might have gone on high alert when one said, “Go Bombers.” But this wasn’t a military order. It was IC alumnus U.S. Army Major Jason A. Porter ’09 introducing himself to U.S. Marine Corps Colonel Ricardo T. “Riccoh” Player ’89.
Player was a guest lecturer at the Marine Corps University where Porter was studying for his master of military studies degree, and Porter arranged an introduction. “You just don’t hear about people from Ithaca College going into the military—especially ethnic minorities from Ithaca College,” Porter said. “I realized how much we had in common. We just kind of hit it off.”
Indeed, the military representation within IC’s student body is relatively small. Pre-COVID, the college averaged 10 to 12 students enrolled in Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) and about the same number of enrolled veterans matriculating. Those numbers were cut by half or more during the pandemic and are just starting to rebound.
IC has a lot to o!er to those interested in—or coming from—the military, said Christina Moylan, IC’s associate provost for graduate and professional studies. Students can learn military-specific leadership development, management skills, ethics, and strategic planning in the ROTC program offered in collaboration with Cornell University. Veterans can take advantage of benefits, like the GI Bill that covers tuition fees, and the network of veterans who work at IC, including those on the Veterans Day Celebration Committee. “
Ithaca College is not a place for coasters or checkthe- boxers,” Moylan said. “We’re a natural home for thinkers, doers, and explorers—and these are typically characteristics of students who come to us interested in ROTC or who are veterans.”
Certainly thinkers, doers, and explorers are descriptors shared by the four IC students and alumni in this article. These four are all at different points in their collegiate-military life, including a current student who is a veteran, a recent ROTC graduate who is preparing for duty, an active officer, and a recent retiree. They have dedicated themselves to service while also exploring—and in some cases pushing— the boundaries of what a military career can be.