Meet Isaac Kinser
Isaac Kinser is no stranger to ETSU. He’s been on campus since enrolling at University School in fifth grade. The junior exercise science major plans to commission as an Army officer once he graduates from ETSU, but he didn’t always feel so confident in his future. The Army ROTC program has helped him find direction and given him an opportunity to focus on his passion for physical fitness by participating in the Army Ranger Challenge team.
Q: What made you decide to join the Army ROTC program?
A: My sister went to ETSU and it seemed like the natural course for me. I was interested in ROTC before I got here and joined my first year. The biggest inspiration for me to join ROTC was my dad. He was a machine gunner in Vietnam. Instead of being an enlisted soldier, I wanted to be an officer. I wanted to have the responsibility.
Q: How has being a cadet enhanced your experience at ETSU?
A: Before I came to ETSU I didn’t have a direction. I didn’t know where I wanted to go in life. I was going through the motions and I feel that being in ROTC has given me so many opportunities to excel and has helped build my character tremendously. It gave me a purpose for what I want to do in life and has helped me become a better person and a better leader.
Q: What type of training is required to be on the Army Ranger Challenge Team?
A: I’ve been on the Army Ranger Challenge Team for about a year and half. We are a physically based team and we compete in tournaments across the country. To me, it’s more of a family than a team. We’re up earlier than everyone else; sometimes we wake up at 4 or 5 a.m. We’re required to do three days per week of training for ROTC, but the Ranger Challenge Team has to do five days, and if we’re preparing for a competition, we will wake up early on the weekends, too.
The training pays off. We went to the Ranger Challenge competition in October and placed first.
Being on the Ranger Challenge Team has helped me become more mentally and physically fit. During my freshman and sophomore year, if we were doing a six-mile ruck and running a lot of it, I know that I would have quit. Now that I’ve had more training and been put through tougher scenarios, I’m definitely more mentally fit. In two of our competitions, we covered 30 miles in a day with a 45-pound ruck on. Going through that lets me know that when I’m in a tough situation, it’s nothing compared to what I’ve done.
Q: Why did you choose exercise science as your major?
A: I was originally a media and communication major and I didn’t feel like the classes were a good fit, so I decided to change my major to exercise science. I’ve always been really passionate about physical fitness, and I knew it was the right choice because it was something I care deeply about and have more interest in. I want a career in the military, as well as a career that I can easily transition to and enjoy when I get out of the military.
Q: What are your goals after you graduate?
A: I plan to branch as an infantry officer and receive specialized training. I hope to go to airborne school and then ranger school. When I finish, I hope to join an active duty unit and deploy overseas. Once I return, I would like to serve on the National Guard and go back to school to become a physical therapist.