Connor Arbiter | Excelling in Two Worlds
by Tim Tate M.S.
Connor Arbiter is excelling in two very different worlds at the University of Idaho. According to professors and Army ROTC cadre Arbiter is distinguishing himself in both graduate school and as a cadet in the University of Idaho’s Army ROTC Chrisman Raider Battalion.
Arbiter is currently working on an interdisciplinary master’s program in political sciences and international studies. He is also training to become an officer in the US Army along with undergraduate juniors in the demanding military science III year.
After excelling as an undergraduate in International Studies and French, Arbiter graduated with a 3.91 college GPA. He had many choices for a master’s program but chose to stay at the University of Idaho because of the combination of strong departments and ROTC battalion here. He continued excelling in graduate school with a 3.8 GPA. Dr. Lisa Carlson, a professor in the political sciences department and Arbiter’s advising professor describes Arbiter as “Connor is a very bright and talented young scholar. Moreover, he exhibits the attributes and skills deemed vital to the ROTC: leadership, problem solving, and strategic planning.”
Arbiter says he made the decision to commit to becoming an Officer in the US Army after stewing over the decision for many years. “I thought about it in high school and then looked hard at ROTC again as an undergraduate and finally stopped wasting my time and made the plunge” says Arbiter. Working towards his BA in International Studies at Martin’s Institute heavily influenced him to look at the Army’s foreign affairs officer program. The key selling points of Army ROTC that pushed him to commit were the opportunities to pay for his master’s program, travel and leadership experience.
Lieutenant Colonel Braum Barton, the commander of the University of Idaho Army ROTC Battalion, makes it clear when describing Cadet Arbiter, "He has the total package Scholar, Athlete and Leader (SAL), exactly what the Army is looking for in a leader. CDT Arbiter is a true professional, Brilliant, adaptive and incredible at managing the extensive requirements of an Army ROTC Cadet and a Master's Student. He is the type of person who will excel at any endeavor, he is an inspiring leader with tremendous potential for future service.
Arbiter has made the most of those opportunities since making the decision to join the Army ROTC battalion last spring 2011. He has attended the four-week long Leadership Training Course at Ft. Knox Kentucky (WATCH THE VIDEO) ,where he earned distinguished honor graduate and was awarded a two-year scholarship to pay for graduate school. He has been a member of the Ranger Challenge teams that took first and fifth place out of nine teams from around the west coast and Guam. Arbiter started the school year as a squad leader in charge of nine other cadets and then was promoted recently to cadet company commander in charge of 58 cadets. In the near future Cadet Arbiter has the Leadership Development and Assessment Course (LDAC) at Ft. Lewis for five weeks. This will assess his overall leadership potential compared to all the other cadets from around the country. He is applying for a Cadet Troop Leader Training in which he follows a Lieutenant Platoon Leader around as a shadow for two weeks and he is hoping for the opportunity to do this in Europe. His long-term goals are branch Military Intelligence and then go to foreign area officer program. He believes that a master’s degree in political science will play into the military career as well.
“It’s all about finding a balance between graduate course work and the demands of ROTC,” says Cadet Arbiter. ROTC takes up a lot of his time and time management and prioritizing becomes very important. “I don’t always get to focus on what I want, or when I want. It does however give me great variety throughout the day. I start early every morning with physical fitness training then attend classes all day and transitions to being cadet company commander in the evenings.”
Cadet Arbiter trains along with the junior underclassmen while being mentored by seniors. When asked if his age and graduate education make a difference when training among younger cadets he responded, “age is not that big of an issue here. The cadets are very mature and squared away. The leadership roles you take on in ROTC force you to grow up a lot so these fellow cadets that are younger are pretty good to work with. If anything I get along really well with the seniors because of age and I’m in a master’s program.” The big benefit according to Arbiter is he already has a bachelor’s degree to fall back on if need be, so he does not stress over making the grade in key classes like the juniors are doing in order to graduate on time and be competitive for active duty commissions. On the converse the challenges Cadet Arbiter has faced are coming to the program two years behind most other cadets, there’s SOPs you have to learn when the rest know how things are done, and time management is tough, and everyone seems to know how some training event should be done while I’m still trying to figure out what the training event is let alone how to do it.
When asked about the graduate school and fellow students view on his ROTC participation, Arbiter answered “Some people are surprised to see me in uniform in class. They’re used to the way I normally dress compared to what I look like in uniform. Everyone has been respectful though. There haven’t been any issues and that’s real nice.”
Regardless of which route his future takes on Arbiter believes his current roles as graduate student and ROTC cadet are making him a more rounded individual, giving him an advantage over his peers and will leave him with a graduate degree, a commission in the US Army as an officer and invaluable experiences.