Lock Haven ROTC, Bloomsburg languages and cultures department receive Project GO grant
The Army ROTC program at the Lock Haven campus of Commonwealth University, in conjunction with Bloomsburg's Languages and Cultures Department, recently received a Project Global Officer (Project GO) grant for programming in the Russian language for ROTC cadets. Commonwealth University is one of only 12 institutions nationwide that received the highly selective and competitive grant.
Commonwealth University received a total grant of nearly $357,000 per year, renewable for three years, to help promote critical language education, offer domestic and overseas language and cultural immersion, and intercultural exposure to its ROTC cadets through Project GO.
One requirement for a university to qualify for acceptance into the program is affiliation with an ROTC Battalion, which is met by Lock Haven's membership with the Bald Eagle Battalion. The program at CommonwealthU is one of only two programs in the Northeastern region of the U.S. that is offering Russian.
"The Project GO program will help develop our future military officers with highly desirable linguistic communication skills that are essential for effective leadership in the 21st century," said Lt. Col. John "Chris" Acosta, professor of military science at Lock Haven. "The Bald Eagle Battalion ROTC cadets, and cadets across the region, will be able to take advantage of this prestigious and proven program. We can't wait to get started."
The program is a hybrid of domestic and overseas instruction and experiences will be held at the Bloomsburg campus as well as Riga, Latvia. All fees and expenses for cadets accepted into the program are paid in full by the grant, including all travel, accommodations, and tuition costs, and students will earn 12 credits upon completion.
"Students have language requirements and this is an opportunity for them to meet that requirement, as well as have an opportunity to travel abroad and gain some professional development experience," said Dr. Mykola Polyuha, Russian language professor and chair of the Department of Languages and Cultures at Commonwealth University.
Polyuha was the driving force behind the grant proposal and application for Commonwealth University. Assisting Polyuha with the grant process was Bob Heckrote, assistant director of military enrollment; Sadie Hauck, pre-award director; and Michelle Robinson, pre-award grant and contract specialist. Others who assisted throughout the process include Dr. Kara Shultz, vice provost and dean of the Honors College; Dr. James Brown, dean of the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences; and Dr. Heather Feldhaus, dean of Graduate Studies, Research, and Innovation.
There are two levels to the program. Level one requires only that the student is an ROTC cadet. Level two requires the student is an ROTC cadet and has completed at least two semesters of the Russian language.
Students accepted into the program will take advantage of Bloomsburg's strong Russian and East European studies program, the largest Russian program among State System schools and one of the largest in the state. The university also has a history of organizing successful faculty-led trips to Eastern and Central Europe and collaborating with the Institute of International Education.
Having worked with intensive language training programs, Polyuha said he also has experience in designing and managing them. "It was a matter of bringing all these components together and adding our university ROTC units to the partnership," Polyuha said.
Heckrote noted that many ROTC cadets become military leaders and officers, with many answering the call to serve in Ukraine. "This is one way to counter that type of global issue," he said.
"Through this program, Commonwealth University and the Bald Eagle Army ROTC Battalion have the ability to provide an exceptional opportunity to cadets throughout the nation," Heckrote added. "Project GO is an example of the campuses and programs of Commonwealth University coming together to deliver exceptional educational opportunities to our students."
"This program provides an important opportunity for our students and future military officers to gain valuable skills while taking part in immersive, first-hand experiences. We are grateful to all who worked to secure acceptance into this program, which will provide valuable leadership training to our ROTC cadets," said Dr. Bashar W. Hanna, University president.
Since 2007, Project GO has provided approximately 6,500 students with opportunities to study culture and 19 languages, both domestically and abroad in 33 countries around the world.
The application for Commonwealth University Project GO is now live. The program will run from May 22, 2023, to July 16, 2023, and the deadline for students to apply for the program is Jan. 17, 2023.