Regent’s Navy ROTC program upholds honor, courage, commitmentand faith

NROTC student, Spencer Lopes

NROTC student, Spencer Lopes

When Regent University student Spencer Lopes started thinking about college, he already had a family legacy of military service behind him, supporting his aspiration to be a Marine Corps officer. He’d also spent two summers at Worldview Academy camps hosted at Regent, further honing his leadership skills. So when he heard that Regent was starting a Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program last spring, Lopes was eager to jump on board as one of its first three students.

Regent joined the Hampton Roads NROTC Consortium as a cross-town affiliate school. The consortium is headquartered at Old Dominion University (ODU) in Norfolk, Va., with Norfolk State University, Hampton University and Tidewater Community College participating in varying degrees.

This arrangement allows Regent students with their sights set on the Navy to still enroll in the degree program of their choice and also commit to classes and training at ODU to fulfill NROTC requirements. There is also a Marine Corps officer option, which keeps a different training schedule but takes the same required courses. For Lopes, the choice was simple.

“I’m drawn to the things they represent, the Navy’s core values, which the Marine Corps also holds up: Honor, Courage, Commitment,” Lopes says. “As a Christian, I believe we’re all stewards of what God has given us, and as a citizen of the United States, we’ve been given this country, and we have a duty to protect it.”

Choosing the NROTC program at Regent is not for the faint of heart. Lopes and his fellow Regent candidates must maintain high standards at two universities simultaneously to prepare for their future military careers. But Lopes knows it’s worth it.

“We’re paving the road for future students,” he says. “We want to make it easier for this to be an attractive option for candidates to come to Regent.”

Unique to Regent is the emphasis on servant leadership, which Lopes agrees is essential to great military leadership.

“We’re being trained here to be Christian leaders who change the world,” he says. “Regent is teaching us to be the leader with an ear to hear, who’s aware of other people’s concerns, and who does the right thing.”

Lopes, who lives with relatives off campus, starts his day at 5:45 a.m. Monday through Friday, and often Saturday too, for physical training (PT), Marine officer classes or drills. After his morning training at ODU, he jumps across town for his Regent classes, then finishes his days at ODU for Naval Science classes.

“You have to have excellent time-management skills and be very diligent,” he says. On top of scheduled training and classes are hours allocated to homework and additional workouts.

Because they’re often surrounded by peers who don’t share their faith, the challenges and opportunities Regent NROTC candidates face are also spiritual.

“The biggest advantage has been that here at Regent we have Christian teachers, and our faith is not controversial; it’s central,” he explains. “Being a Christian in a non-Christian environment was new to me, but it forces me to hold myself to an even higher standard. It’s an opportunity to grow in faith and to be an example to my peers.”

In 2016, Lopes will be one of the first students to complete the Regent NROTC program.

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