Business Senior Serving As Local ROTC Cadet Wing Commander

Business Senior Serving As Local ROTC Cadet Wing Commander

Michael Wooldridge stands by the United States flag and is the ROTC Wing Commander.
Michael Wooldridge

Michael Wooldridge can still remember a time when he struggled to do a single pullup. Now after joining the Montgomery area United States Air Force Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) Detachment 019, he’s able to string more than a dozen together flawlessly. Strength is not the only thing he’s gained from joining the unit. He’s discovered confidence, leadership skills, team work, tenacity and so much more. 

A senior at Faulkner, Cadet Colonel Wooldridge is also serving as the current cadet wing commander of the detachment, which is hosted in Montgomery at Alabama State University (ASU). 

As the cadet wing commander of the group, he shares with all who will listen the great benefits he’s achieved through joining ROTC. 

Joining the Air Force has been on Wooldridge’s radar since he was a little boy looking up to his dad, who is serving in the Air Force himself as an enlisted senior master sergeant. As a family, they’ve moved about the country and the globe from duty station to duty station. All the while, Wooldridge was learning what it meant to be a part of the armed forces. Just like his father, he wanted to serve in order to protect his country. 

They were stationed in New Mexico just before the Wooldridges were moved once again to follow their father. They settled in Montgomery, Alabama where he is currently serving at Maxwell Air Force Base. 

As a senior in high school and anticipating their move to the River Region, Wooldridge began researching the area for compatible universities that were not only faith-based, but would allow him to pursue his dream of joining the ROTC. He found Faulkner University. 

“I began looking into Faulkner and its mission statement and it just seemed very authentic about its Christian faith, which was very important to me,” Wooldridge said. “Faulkner also has a cross town agreement where I can pursue the Air Force ROTC while still attending school.”

After discussions with his father, Wooldridge decided to enroll at Faulkner and pursue a degree in business administration. It wasn’t long before he grew fond of the classes and faculty of Faulkner’s Harris College of Business. 

“I chose business because it would be a good all-around degree that could open up a lot of opportunities down the road paired with my Air Force training,” Wooldridge said. “At Faulkner I really grew fond of the degree plan I chose. I finished most of my basic classes and diving into the true business courses opened the world up to me. I can see myself going to work for Lockheed or Boeing after my Air Force career. That would be great!”

“Overall my experience at Faulkner has been a good one,” he added. “The professors have been awesome and have really helped me know the material and connect the concepts. They’re personable and have the desire to get to know me and are just happy to talk with you. Dr. Black is my advisor and I’ve enjoyed our conversations. Dr. Gregor invites his students out to his house for dinner and we all signed our names on his tablecloth. It’s a tradition.”

As Wooldridge pursues his education at Faulkner, he is also simultaneously fulfilling his goal to join the Air Force through the cross-town enrollment agreement. This allows him to join nearly 30 other cadets from universities and colleges in the River Region in the area’s ROTC Detachment 019.

The Air Force ROTC is a four-year program to shape leaders who in turn earn their commissions to start the officer track in the Air Force and/or Space Force. The 019 detachment was founded in 1971 at ASU with the first class graduating in 1974. It is now the host of four other universities including Faulkner. 

Courses Wooldridge takes as part of his ROTC training focus on military leadership, military history, operational planning and military operation concepts. Of course, there is also a certain amount of physical fitness as well. 

Just like joining the United States Air Force, the Air Force ROTC requires its cadets to maintain a certain level of physical fitness and often times the cadets will have routine physical training exercises. Their assessment consists of one minute of push-ups, one minute of sit-ups and a 1.5-mile run. Wooldridge and other cadets also had to partake in two weeks of field training, or the ROTC version of basic training that tested not only their physical strength, but their mental fitness as well. 

“When you first arrive at boot camp, they take away your phone and wallet and put them in a place where you’ll get them back at the end,” Wooldridge said. “It’s all meant to keep us focused and teach us discipline. The instructors don’t yell, but rather use ‘elevated voices.’ The entire two weeks is a physical and mental test. Yes, instructors were hard on us, but that is because they saw we had potential to do better and be great. I broke out of my shell a lot faster that way. Their methods all have a purpose.”

After field training, cadets were taught the process of how to lead effectively. They set up lesson plans, received objectives from headquarters and brainstormed on how to best meet those goals. They were taught how to balance different teaching styles, and how to best utilize each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Of course, being in the Air Force ROTC means you have the chance to gain flight hours by flying in a Cessna 172. That’s just one of the scholarships available through the ROTC. Others can help cadets gain their undergraduate degrees. 

Now in his senior year at Faulkner, Wooldridge, is not only the big brother to his sister who recently enrolled as a freshman at Faulkner, he also gained seniority among his detachment. He is serving as the cadet wing commander for his final semester. 

“When they asked me, I was surprised, but mostly excited with a hint anxiety,” Wooldridge said. “It’s a big responsibility, but the program has been training me to become an officer and this is how I can put that training to the test.”

After graduation, Wooldridge is looking forward to pursuing a career in aircraft maintenance with the Air Force and eventually work for Lockheed Martin. 

Those who are interested in enrolling at Faulkner University and participating in the cross-town enrollment ROTC agreement, can learn more by visiting Students wishing to participate must be full-time students, US citizens and meet GPA requirements. They must also take and pass the Air Force Officer Qualifying Test and a physical fitness assessment each semester. Air Force ROTC scholarships are available. You may also reach out to the Air Force ROTC Detachment 019 on Instagram or Facebook.