Alumni work to support ROTC students through financial hardships

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — In 2015, Daniel Picone was a student in Penn State’s Army ROTC program. The time and effort involved in the program, some days beginning at 3 a.m. and ending at 7 p.m., made it difficult for him to have a part-time job to assist in covering housing costs.

Although many ROTC students face this same challenge, Picone was not on scholarship and relied heavily on the stipend he received as a contracted cadet. Loss of the stipend could adversely affect both his academic and personal goals for military service.

For Lt. Col. Ken Weiland, former professor of military science, it was not the first time one of his students had faced this challenge. Of the more than 300 ROTC students enrolled annually, more than half receive the U.S. Army Cadet Command Scholarship, which can be used to cover costs associated with tuition, room and board, books or other specific expenses. For cadets who do not receive this scholarship, the struggle to pay for these college expenses is more difficult.

“The relative expense of college poses challenges for numerous cadets each semester who are not receiving Army scholarship monies,” said Col. Rich Garey, professor of military science. “These cadets must meet their academic requirements like all Penn State students but also have the additional rigors of the Army ROTC program. These requirements can reduce their ability to work during the school year and finance their endeavors at Penn State.”

That’s why the Penn State Army ROTC Alumni Interest Group approved an endowment in 2015 to enrich the academic environment of these students. Brendan Bagley, a 1992 alumnus of the ROTC program, helped bring the endowment to fruition over a two-year process, along with the Alumni Interest Group (AIG) board.

“This endowment will enable the Army ROTC Cadre and AIG to distribute funds to cadets who need a boost to get them through a short-term financial hardship,” said Bagley, information technology project manager in Penn State’s Office of Physical Plant.

“Ensuring current and future cadets of the Nittany Lion Battalion have the means necessary to succeed should be our responsibility as alumni.”

— Capt. Daniel Seibel

The AIG Endowment Committee will review all applications and decide how to disburse funds to those with demonstrated financial need. Many Penn State Army ROTC alumni have commended the endowment’s mission and are eager to see it succeed.

“I fully support the concept of an Army ROTC AIG endowment to help cadets in need of assistance during difficult and unfortunate circumstances,” said Capt. Daniel Seibel, class of 2007. “Ensuring current and future cadets of the Nittany Lion Battalion have the means necessary to succeed should be our responsibility as alumni.” 

Lt. Gen. William Pagonis, class of 1964, emphasized that “dedicated” ROTC students are voluntarily participating in time-consuming training, all with the end goal of serving in the U.S. Army.

“It is truly needed to allow the cadets to continue in the ROTC program,” Pagonis said.

Members of the community can support the Army ROTC Alumni Interest Group at or by contacting Andrea Pagano-Reyes, director of development for University Programs, at

The Reserve Officers’ Training Corps is part of Penn State Undergraduate Education, the academic administrative unit that provides leadership and coordination for University-wide programs and initiatives in support of undergraduate teaching and learning at Penn State. Learn more about Undergraduate Education at

Last Updated January 12, 2018