Seeking to serve

by Stephanie Gregory

Scott VanOort is viewed as strong, self-determined and an all-around motivated person by his family and his friends. VanOort is a junior at the University and an Air Force cadet in ROTC from Rochester, Minn. He said he has known his whole life that he wanted to be in the Air Force, serving his country.

VanOort has a deep history of active Air Force officers in his family, including several family members who have served overseas.

His respect and admiration for them encouraged him to fulfill his own dream of eventually becoming an officer, he said. At the University, VanOort is also using his military interests for his degree in military operations, communication and history, which he created through the Bachelor of Individualized Studies program.

He said his ultimate goal is to be a pilot navigator, working operations with space and missiles.

“I want to work with, basically, anything on the operation side,” VanOort said. “Only 4 percent of the Air Force are actually pilots. There is a lot more support that goes into the Air Force.”

VanOort enjoys being in ROTC, he said, because its goal is to get the required training without imposing on college life.

He has had a lot of hands-on experience in the field he wants to enter after he graduates. During his sophomore year, VanOort was leader of the Operations Training Squadron, he said.

This year, VanOort is the Operations Support Squadron commander, with a rank of cadet captain. He is in charge of planning and organizing weekly leadership labs and scheduling guest speakers.

VanOort is also active at the University outside the ROTC.

He has played alto saxophone in the University Marching Band since his first year at the University. He also works as the property manager for the Marching Band.

During the summer, VanOort attended field training in Rapid City, S.D. As one of the hardest things he has gone through, VanOort said, it was there he realized why he wanted to be in the Air Force.

“I realized that it is really a privilege and an honor to be here receiving this training” he said.

“I’m the next in line to protect the country. If I weren’t able to make that sacrifice, then someone would have to, and there is a certain amount of pride in that.”

When he realized that, VanOort said, he gained a focus.

“My friends and family motivate me to do this. They mean a lot to me,” he said.

VanOort said his dedication to service is helping others live safely in peace.

“I’m willing to step up and do it, and that’s why I am here,” he said.

Elizabeth Ogaard

Elizabeth Ogaard is a music, management and communication studies sophomore. Born and raised in Maple Grove, Minn., Ogaard said she has always known she wanted to be in the Army.

“I love our country, and I think it’s one of the greatest things you can do is to serve your country” she said.

Although Ogaard is pursuing a position in the Army Reserve, she said she wants to go into the music industry and work for a record label one day. She is also exploring working in telecommunications within the Army.

Ogaard is in a transportation unit of the Army Reserve, working with computers and radio convoys.

She said she is excited about this opportunity.

“I like the training that we do and that it helps me become a better soldier,” she said.

Ogaard said she is nervous her current unit is deployed.

“Sometimes, I have mixed feelings, but this is what I am in the Army to do,” she said.

She will begin the ROTC program next semester. Completing basic training was the toughest thing she has ever done, Ogaard said. With the drill sergeants in her face, she didn’t leave training the same, she said.

“I had to keep reminding myself that it was only making me better for what I want to do,” she said.