ROTC Cadet Seeks to Apply Leadership and Engineering Skills to Army Career – The Daily Evergreen
Mason Devorak is President of the Cougar Battalion Club, Captain of the Ranger Challenge Team
Mason Devorak’s peers use the words determined, committed and leader to describe WSU’s senior electrical engineering major and Army ROTC cadet.
Devorak, 22, is from Clarkston, Washington, and graduated from Asotin High School in 2018. He then went to WSU, where he decided to join the university’s Army ROTC program at the end of his sophomore year. .
WSU’s Army ROTC program offers students a chance to advance their careers in a unique way after graduation by becoming commissioned officers in the United States Army. This opportunity requires students to commit to an eight-year contract after graduation. This can be divided in different ways in terms of years of active duty and reserves, Devorak said.
Being an officer in the military requires these ROTC cadets to assume a leadership role almost immediately after graduating from their respective universities. The individuals they lead are the tens of thousands of active duty service members currently under oath for the US military, he said.
“I’m not nervous, to be honest,” Devorak said. “It’s really excitement that I feel. The other cadets and I feel that our training has prepared us well.
The training Devorak is referring to is the daily regiment that all ROTC cadets must complete in addition to their school schedule. In addition to the typical 5:50 a.m. practice training on Mondays, Wednesdays and on Fridays, ROTC cadets earn additional credits needed for their program. These required credits increase in number with each academic year of the program. Devorak said it’s not unusual for upperclass cadets to take about 17 to 18 academic credits per semester during the program.
Lab courses including field exercises are also thrown into the mix, with cadets undergoing different training such as tactical knowledge courses and leadership courses.
Devorak also holds leadership positions within the ROTC program. As president of the Cougar Battalion club, he said he helps make decisions about funding and other cadet activities.
Besides that, he is also the captain of the school’s Ranger Challenge team. The Ranger Challenge is a competition where schools send their “varsity team” to compete against other schools and test their skills in several events, including basic rifle marksmanship, land navigation and the combat aptitude test of the army, he said.
The Ranger Challenge requires competing cadets to undergo additional physical and technical training to perform at their best to proudly represent the Cougar Battalion.
“It’s kind of a heavy workload, but it never felt like work or work to me,” Devorak said. “It’s always been nice; the other cadets and the cadre are an incredible group.
Devorak’s desire to serve his country began before he joined the ROTC program, and even before he got to college. He said he thought about going the enlisted route after high school, but instead chose to continue his education at WSU because he saw an opportunity in the school’s Army ROTC program.
“One of the main reasons was to challenge myself,” Devorak said, “I’ve always done things to push myself out of my comfort zone, that’s definitely something that did that. Getting into a leadership role has helped me a lot to progress.
ROTC caddy Evan Smith praised Devorak’s work ethic, saying he’s a great example of what a leader should look like.
“Leading by example is something that doesn’t happen all the time,” Smith said. “People see how busy Devo’s (Devorak) schedule is, and they think ‘man, maybe I can do a bit more’.”
The ability to lead by example is one of Devorak’s attributes he showed in the ROTC program, but not the only one. Resilience and the ability to make others leaders themselves are also things he learned during his training and hopes to continue throughout his time in the military.
After graduating from WSU this spring, Devorak will enter the infantry for a few years before entering the US Army Corps of Engineers. He said he will seek to combine his knowledge from his degree in electrical engineering and his military experience to open up opportunities for his professional career.
“I don’t really know yet whether I want to pursue a career in the army or enter the civilian world,” Devorak said. “I’ll wait to see how it goes, but one thing is for sure, I’m excited for what the future holds.”