While Saint Leo University prepares many graduates for exciting careers in a number of traditional industries, the university also gives future military leaders the training they need to succeed through its unique ROTC program for aspiring Air Force and Army cadets.

Gregory Nobles is a recently commissioned cadet from this program, which Saint Leo operates through a partnership with the University of South Florida in Tampa.

The 22-year-old native of Zephyrhills, Fla. attended Zephyrhills High School and participated in an ROTC program there as well.

"I was in that program for two years and had a great experience," he says.

His 28-year-old brother, Joshua, also had an influence on him going into the armed forces.

"My brother is five years older than me and joined the Marine Corps while I was a sophomore in high school," he says. "I have always admired him and told him that his word is worth a million second opinions. I had always followed in his footsteps until I was left to my own when he left home. One of the proudest moments of my life will always be when my brother was my first salute on the day of my commissioning."

Now, Joshua is in a Marine Corps ROTC program in Daytona Beach, meaning his little brother is ahead of him in terms of training.

"It's kind of funny how I would always follow him, and now I'm actually ahead of him," Nobles says.

Selecting Saint Leo

It was the advice of a mentor he took to heart when ultimately choosing Saint Leo for higher education and military training through its Army track.

"I was going to enlist in the Marine Corps, but one of my instructors told me that I was probably better suited for college," he recalls. "I did enlist but also applied to a few schools, including Saint Leo. I applied for a four-year ROTC scholarship there. When I took a tour of the campus, they were very friendly and welcoming, and they really made me feel like a special person, not just a number. I also had some friends in the program there."

He enrolled in 2014 and completed his bachelor's degree in 2018. He majored in biology with a specialization in ecology. Two faculty members who made a positive impression on him were Drs. Chris Miller and William Ellis.

"We always had a good old time together," he says. "Even though I was their student, we shared a lot of laughs, too."

He says there is one Saint Leo core value that means a lot to him.

"Personal Development is the core value that resonates the strongest for me," Nobles says. "There is a noticeable growth in my maturity and wisdom since entering as a fresh high school graduate and leaving as a 22-year-old second lieutenant in the U.S. Army. I think it's important to be cognizant of the changes in one's self in relation to changes in that person's life."

As for his ROTC experience, he is most grateful for the individuals who were part of it.

"The people I worked with made the whole experience worthwhile. I enjoyed and owe lots of support to the instructors and everyone I graduated with, especially two of my fellow cadets, Micah Hitchcock and Calvin Cribbs."

While in college, Nobles worked two-part time jobs doing security for a trucking depot and customer service for a health food store.

Training for Work Overseas

Nobles now resides in Ft. Lee, Va. where he is working on a 16-week training program. He is currently a transportation officer in logistics.

"I'm learning how to read and conduct appointments and everything involved in shipping materials. Right now, it's all about learning the paperwork and processes involved in this type of work."

Never having been to Europe in his life, he'll be on his way to Germany upon completing this training. He plans to serve for potentially up to eight years and would love to bring his skills he learns in the military to a civilian trade one day.

"I expect to learn as much as I can," he says. "I might consider getting a master's degree down the road as well."

Advice to Prospective ROTC Cadets

He offers up some advice for anyone considering Saint Leo's ROTC program.

"The commitment is not to ROTC, but to the nation and yourself," he advises. "The rationale has to be honest and honorable. Anyone with the right attitude and willpower will be a motivated individual who will be able to take themselves far."

He adds that representing his nation and the freedoms for which it stands is very humbling.

"Serving in the military ought to be a selfless devotion, understanding that it is a volunteer-based organization where anyone should be willing to offer the greatest sacrifice. Devotion is best displayed through one's actions and appearances in and out of the duty uniform." 

Photo credit: The photograph included with this blog article was provided by Gregory Nobles and is used with permission.