Eunice Kim, staff writer
On weekdays, sophomore Andrew Park studies and hangs out with his friends like any other Norman. However, during weekends, Park participates in the Naval Cadet Program located in an army base near UCLA.
According to its official website, the Naval Cadet Program provides “compelling, life-changing programs for America’s youth that instill the values of teamwork, discipline, camaraderie and service through [its] passionate all-volunteer force and our partnerships with the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard.” Park was mainly drawn to the patriotic aspect of the program.
“Well, number one, I love America,” Park said. “And number two, I think it’s really fun to experience things that many people don’t experience. Also, as a man, it’s something that men should really do.”
There are certain requirements needed in order to enroll in the program. One must have a GPA of 3.5 or higher and be physically fit. In addition, one must pass the exam consisting of history questions such as, “When was the Declaration of Independence written?” and other naval questions.
The participant is given two hours to complete the test, which is followed by an essay. Since the exam is composed of almost 500 questions, many people fail to become volunteers.
“We usually start around with 500 people, but because of the test, in the end, we only end up with 200 people joining,” Park said.
Park’s average day in the naval program consists of many marching and discipline trainings. However, there is a lot more to the naval program than marching and day guarding.
“As a naval cadet, we get to train with actual people in the Navy. We have to train with actual Marines, coast guards, people in the Army and we get to do a lot of life simulations with something called ‘simulation guns’ which actually shoot rubber bullets, so it’s interesting,” Park said. “We get to drive light armor vehicle which is also known as LAV. We get to do a lot of stuff that naval people do. We get to travel in the submarines for a week and we go on a ship for [another] week.”
The rank of the Naval Cadet Program is separated into three groups. Volunteers join the program as a private, move on to petty officers and then reach the level of chief. If a volunteer manages to achieve the title of a chief, s/he can become an office rank as soon as s/he joins the actual Navy.
“[To be promoted to chief I need to] study hard, pass the exams and try my best,” Park said.