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Recruiter extraordinaire - William Roberts triples GSU ROTC cadets, earns national honor

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Recruiter extraordinaire - William Roberts triples  GSU ROTC cadets, earns national honor

Lt. Col. William Roberts, far right, was honored Monday as the top ROTC recruiter in the United States for 2009. Roberts was instrumental in helping Georgia Southern more than triple the size of its ROTC in less than two years.

    A year ago, Kelsey Fincher would have laughed if anyone said she'd be an ROTC student at Georgia Southern University, but thanks to the effort of William Roberts, she joined the ranks at a swearing in ceremony Monday.
    Lt. Col. (Ret.) William Roberts, GSU's scholarship and enrollment officer, was presented with the U.S. Army's Recruiting Operations Officer award, which recognizes the top ROTC officer in the country. True to Army form, Roberts was humbled by the award, deflecting the praise and crediting the efforts of those around him.
    “I'm just happy for the battalion. I'm just the guy accepting (the award) — this is a team effort,” Roberts said. “It's not a one-man thing. There are an awful lot of people who work hard with me every day to make this possible. I just appreciate it.
    “We're just really thrilled about it because it obviously will bring some added attention to our ROTC program. So, we're really happy about it.”
    About 270 schools were in the running for the award and Roberts credits GSU's increase in enrollment and national profile for contributing to his and his team's success.
    “Every year, Georgia Southern is growing and gaining in national recognition,” Roberts said. “The growth of Georgia Southern has helped us in getting really good quality cadets into the program and the large numbers that we're getting.”
    Lt. Colonel George Fredrick, GSU professor of military science and the ROTC coordinator, said he was not surprised by the award due to Roberts' professionalism.
    “Roberts had my job for three years in the early 2000's, so he understands ROTC. He's an infantry officer, so he understands the Army,” Fredrick said. “Bill Roberts is a joy and a professional and he's the reason we went from 76 cadets to 242 cadets (in 18 months).”
Fredrick explained how Roberts is so successful in recruiting new cadets into GSU's ROTC program.
    “They see that he will work for them and do anything to help them with their financial aid, help them with their academics, help them anyway he can,” Fredrick said. “Once they're in the program, he checks on those kids every week. It doesn't happen over a short period of time.”
Kelsey Fincher, a GSU student from Snellville, Ga., was one of three new cadets sworn in before the award ceremony Monday. Fincher said she would have laughed if anyone would have suggested a year ago that she would be joining ROTC.
    “I had actually been planning on going Navy, but Lt. Col. Roberts convinced me to go Army over Navy,” Fincher said. “He really worked hard to make sure I was totally taken care of. He was very personable and left a really good impression on me.”
Roberts has no plans to rest on his laurels, but will continue to bring young future lieutenants and captains to GSU.
    “We're going to continue to bring in the very best people into our program that we can because our Army needs fine young men and women who want to serve. That's what we're all about.”

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