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Air Force ROTC diversity to be featured nationwide

By Alec Jennings
University News Service
March 26, 2010

Emblematic of its efforts to increase the representation of minorities in its officer ranks, the United States Air Force will feature the Texas State University-San Marcos Air Force ROTC in an upcoming national marketing campaign.

"Our detachment was chosen as the model of diversity Air Force ROTC strives to achieve," said Lt. Col. Jim Gray, commander and chair of the Air Force ROTC at Texas State. "This is an awesome opportunity to showcase our students and our campus."

Scheduled to shoot video on campus April 6, the marketing campaign will feature Texas State Air Force ROTC cadets in all aspects of the Air Force ROTC student experience: in street clothes, in uniform, in the classroom, in physical training and beyond. The footage will be used in a national campaign using the Web, print and video with the purpose of targeting underrepresented minorities the Air Force is working to attract into its officers ranks.

"The Air Force wants to look like United States society as a whole," Gray said. "What the Air Force ROTC is trying to do is to recruit those underrepresented minorities. All the detachments were issued that challenge."

With 42 percent of its cadets female and 36 percent minorities, the Texas State detachment has been increasingly meeting that challenge. Furthermore, its newest cadets in the freshman and sophomore groups have improved to a 50/50 representation of underrepresented groups. Gray said he attributes much of their detachment's success in recruitment to word of mouth through the efforts of their own students.

"Our students are our best representatives," he said. "Our students are the ones who go out and do the recruiting. They're our best ambassadors."

The military's goals for improving the diversity of its officers have purposes beyond simple appearances. In an increasingly diverse society, it's important, Gray said, to have an armed services that reflects that society and is in tune with its cultures and values. Having a qualified officer corps prepared to lead a volunteer force drawn from that society is equally important.

Gray said the Air Force ROTC at Texas State is increasingly growing to match contemporary society and meet their goals, which speaks well to the environment created by the detachment and the university.

"This is concrete validation that we create an environment where all students, regardless of race or gender, feel welcome to participate."