Lessons learned in ROTC position Hopkins senior for success

Connor Joyce will join the U.S. Army as second lieutenant after graduation

A man in military fatigues with a crowd of children

Image caption: Kids in Burkina Faso show off their new Johns Hopkins bracelets, given to them by Hopkins undergrad Connor Joyce

Credit: Courtesy of Connor Joyce

Connor Joyce has a job lined up for after graduation, one that involves international travel, solving global problems, and team management—skills he says he learned during his time at Johns Hopkins.

But he won't be joining a startup, a hedge fund, or a nonprofit like many of his peers. After receiving his diploma in mechanical engineering Thursday, Joyce will become a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army.

"I grew up in Annapolis right across the river from the Naval Academy, so I always knew I wanted to go into service," Joyce says. "ROTC—especially at Johns Hopkins—seemed like a good fit for me and the college education I wanted."

A man in military fatigues holds a trophy

Image caption: Joyce's favorite ROTC experience was the Ranger Challenge competition, which the Blue Jay Battalion won twice

Image credit: Courtesy of Connor Joyce

Joyce has served in the Johns Hopkins ROTC program since his freshman year. He will be commissioned to the U.S. Army during a ceremony Wednesday morning at the Johns Hopkins Bunting Meyerhoff Chapel Community Center. He is one of 13 ROTC cadets to be commissioned into active duty this spring.

"In each graduating class, I see the hallmarks of truly great leaders," says Lt. Col. Michael Gorreck, a professor of military science at Johns Hopkins and leader of the Blue Jay Battalion, which is made up of students from Hopkins and other local universities. "As they strive to do better, to learn more, and to take on greater challenges, they inspire those cadets who follow them to even greater achievements. I'm extremely proud of this year's commissioning class."

As a cadet in the ROTC program, Joyce took courses in military science, history, and leadership in addition to his mechanical engineering courses. He and other members of his battalion took part in weekend trainings at local bases several times each semester, and during his junior year, Joyce spent a month at Fort Knox, Kentucky, where he completed his required cadet training in squad and platoon tactics, riflery, and physical fitness. In 2015, he embarked on a goodwill cultural understanding mission to Burkina Faso, where he interacted with members of local communities and trained with cadets at a national military academy there.

A highlight of Joyce's ROTC career, he says, was the Ranger Challenge competition—a brigade-wide endurance and athletic competition among about 40 colleges and universities. Joyce helped lead the Blue Jay Battalion to victory twice during his time at JHU.

"ROTC prepares you to tackle any challenge, to work with others, and to learn to identify strengths and weaknesses to accomplish goals," Joyce says. "The leadership and teamwork I learned in ROTC helped prepare me for the challenges of mechanical engineering, and I think I had a leg up on some of my peers from my Army training."

He will report to Fort Lee, Virginia, in July.

Correction: Lt. Col. Michael Gorreck's rank was misstated in an earlier version of this article. The Hub regrets the error.