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Tried and Tested: Two Seaver Students Complete ROTC Training and Earn Military Postings

Alex Consentino, Henry Scott

At 3:45 AM, their alarm clocks blare. 

In the black hours of the morning, they get out of bed, pull on their camouflage fatigues, and quietly slide out of their rooms. From there, they navigate the twists and turns of Malibu Canyon Road before joining the all but empty US 101 freeway en route to California State University, Northridge, or the University of California, Los Angeles—whichever school is hosting that day. Upon arrival, they join a strict regimen of physical training, leadership development courses, and strategic exercises. At 9 AM, they are dismissed, drive back to Malibu, and become college students ... before the day starts over again ... at 3:45 AM.

This is the schedule two Seaver College students, Alex Consentino and Henry Scott,  kept for four years while serving as Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) cadets. On Sunday, April 29, 2024—one day after graduating from Pepperdine University,  the two young men were commissioned into the United States Army as second lieutenants. Their commitment to support and defend America's Constitution represents the culmination of arduous training, tremendous sacrifice, and unquestionable grit. Most of all, it represents Consentino’s and Scott’s personal conviction to separate from the pack and lead a life devoted to the service and protection of others. 

“I guess you could describe this as a calling,” Scott says. “There is something inside me that’s been drawn to the military. I find a great sense of fulfillment being a part of an organization with a greater mission of service.”

Origin Stories:

Consentino and Scott were both motivated to participate in Pepperdine University’s ROTC program because of their distinct childhood experiences. 

Consentino, who is originally from Connecticut, attended Valley Forge Military Academy from seventh grade through high school. His early experience with the daily disciplines and routines of military life inspired him to continue his education as an ROTC cadet. However, it was his sister who ultimately influenced him to pursue the call of duty.

Cadets salute the US flag

“I wanted to make sure that my little sister didn't have to worry about student loans, especially when I had this opportunity presented to me as an ROTC cadet,” Consentino explains. “My parents worked hard and saved up as much as they could for us to go to college. Now, my sister can use all of those funds.”

Scott’s path was less conventional. His family did not have a military background. Nor did he attend a high school that engaged in military traditions. Rather, Scott, a Lake Bluff, Illinois native, was pulled toward a service career as a result of growing up near Great Lakes Naval Station—one of the largest naval bases in the nation.

“I grew up seeing all the sailors and Marines running on the paths around our house,” says Scott. “I’d hear ‘Reveille’ every morning when I woke up and ‘Taps’ every night.”

This proximity to the disciplined and orderly patterns of the military drew Scott’s curiosity, and upon learning of the service-oriented mission of his neighbors, he was encouraged to carve a similar route forward. After talking with other members of the armed forces, he elected to go to college and join an ROTC unit. 

Pepperdine People:

Although Consentino and Scott took different routes to Pepperdine University, their rationale behind the decision was identical. Both cadets were attracted to Malibu because of the small but unified campus community at Seaver College. 

Alex Consentino, Eric Leshinsky, Henry Scott

“Pepperdine is not your typical big state school,” says Consentino. “When I visited campus, I liked the uniqueness of the community. Pepperdine attracts a wide variety of people into a smaller group, and it allows you to develop genuine relationships with others, which broadens your perspective.”

“It’s interesting to be surrounded by people who don’t think like you,” Scott adds. “Everyone here has different worldviews and experiences. It’s helped me develop a greater perception of everything. I’m grateful for that.”

This connected campus culture supported the two cadets throughout the early-morning wake-ups and strenuous mental and physical activities demanded of them each day. Whether it was a student who stopped them on campus to offer an encouraging word or a faculty member who helped them endure the rigors of an academic semester, Consentino and Scott had the Seaver College community behind them. 

Pepperdine University is known for supporting the Armed Forces through its ROTC and veterans initiatives. Ranked as the 45th best college for veterans by U.S. News and World Report, Pepperdine actively aids just under 500 enrolled students who are veterans, active service members, ROTC cadets, and their family members. Through the PeppVet Center, which was established on campus in 2023, these students receive access to helpful resources ranging from preferred class registration to active involvement in a variety of community engagement activities.

With a strong support system rooting them on, the two cadets grinded through their four years of extracurricular responsibilities. In addition to the morning exercises, they each sacrificed weekends throughout specific months for tactical training exercises, which were both exhausting and demanding. They participated in summer intensive exercises lasting 30 to 40 days. These duties, in addition to a challenging course load on campus, developed a unique resilience in the young men. 

“The program has helped me understand some of my greatest weaknesses outside of ROTC,” says Scott. “It has reframed the concept of failure and taught me how to overcome obstacles. I’ll apply these lessons to my work throughout the rest of my life.”

The balance between being an ROTC cadet and a college student was difficult to find. Existing between these two worlds demonstrated to the Seaver cadets just how different their undergraduate experience was from their classmates’. 

“ROTC and military life is not for everyone,” explains Consentino. “It's a big, big commitment. You don't realize the size of the commitment until you're in its midst. In those moments, I told myself, ‘If you quit on this, who is to say you're not going to quit everything else? This is not the hardest thing that's going to happen to you in life. I'm going to have more challenges and struggles and things to balance on my plate than this.’ I just decided to keep pushing through it.”

Commissioning Ceremony:

After persevering through the highs and lows of training and earning the trust and confidence of their training commanders, Consentino and Scott were commissioned into the Military during a ceremony that underpins the tradition, the honor, and enormous responsibility they carry as commissioned officers.

Two cadets take an oath of office

Standing in uniform at the position of attention, the two cadets raised their right hands and took the oath of office. Gold bars were then pinned on each of their shoulders to represent the rank of second lieutenant. Then, an enlisted member of the Armed Forces approached the newly commissioned officers and saluted them. Consentino and Scott’s first act as officers was to return the salute, a gesture of deep respect between officers and enlisted members of the Armed Forces.

The two cadets will now pursue specialized training in their assigned occupational specialties before reporting for duty at their respective military installations. 

In his new role as a second lieutenant, Consentino will be based at the Marine Corps Air Station in Miramar, San Diego. There he will serve in the Military reserves as the petroleum supply officer responsible for meeting the fuel distribution needs for the entirety of the base. He will fill this role for eight years.

Scott was commissioned into active duty infantry as a second lieutenant. His next assignment will take him to Fort Moore in Georgia for a 19-week infantry officer leadership course. Eventually, he will attend Ranger School. Scott will serve for four years. 

“I’m extremely proud of their persistence,” says Eric Leshinsky, director of student veteran affairs at Pepperdine University and a retired United States Air Force colonel. “Participating in ROTC along with being a college student is a great commitment. It pulls you out from the normal routines of a college student and develops future military leaders. It is quite a test—one not easily passed. 

In completing the ROTC program and passing the test Leshinsky speaks of, Consentino and Scott will emerge from Pepperdine University with more than a degree. The two cadets will join the Armed Forces as tried and tested young leaders who possess the determination and discipline to confidently advance their missions. 

“I've earned experience that I will apply throughout my entire life,” Consentino says. “I developed time management, leadership, and communications skills, as well as interpersonal and team management skills in the ROTC program at Pepperdine. It’s a rewarding, awesome adventure.”