Eight individuals affiliated with Niagara University's ROTC program, including six cadets, spent a week in June assisting the American Legion Boys State program at SUNY Morrisville.
Cadets Jake Cary (of Victory), Brandon Forjone (Clifton Spring), Kyle Gelnett (Cleveland, New York), Aaron McCarroll (Sidney), Jacob Streb (York) and Trevor Wilson (Tonawanda) served as assistant county counselors, mentoring the county's 90 citizens. Meanwhile, 2nd Lt. Kit Burdick, Class of 2014, and Sean Donohue, recruiting operations officer at NU, acted as city counselors.
The American Legion's Boys State program is based on an idea that young men should be offered a better perspective of the practical operation of government, and that an individual is an integral part and responsible for the character and success of government.
The first Boys State of New York was held in 1938 at the Syracuse Fairgrounds.
Boys State is now held at SUNY Morrisville, with more than 900 young men attending the seven-day program each year.
The American Legion selects high school juniors from across the state to participate in the program. Only students who exhibit strong leadership skills, possess good personality traits and demonstrate honesty are selected to attend.
These young citizens direct state, county and municipal governments by electing and appointing their own officers. Boys State citizens are divided into two parties bearing arbitrary names, traditionally Federalists and Nationalists. The citizens, upon arrival, are assigned to one of the political parties, a county and a city. Each boy runs for the office to which he aspires. Throughout his term of office, each official is shown the same respect that his office demands in a real-life situation. Conventions, caucuses and elections conform to the actual procedure in state government.
Throughout the week, the participants listen to presentations by special guests from the community, professional leaders and governmental officials. In addition, Boys State alumni speak about their experiences and how the program helped make them successful.
Cadets acting as assistant county counselors answer questions about life as a college student and member of the Army ROTC program.
Meanwhile, city counselors are directly responsible for 30-35 students. They oversee the daily communication with students, address any issues that arise (including illnesses), and keep the county counselor apprised of each student's progression.
Niagara University's Army ROTC program is consistently ranked among the best in the country, previously garnering the No. 1 standing in the U.S. for recruitment, retention and quality of training in 2004; being named the No. 1 program in the Northeast in 2008; and achieving the highest average National Active Duty Accessions Board ranking in the Northeast for fiscal year 2013. In March, the Purple Eagle Battalion was one of eight nationwide to receive the MacArthur Award.
Military alumni of Niagara include two Medal of Honor recipients, Gen. William Donovan and Lt. John Bobo, and a humanitarian nominated for sainthood, Father Nelson Baker. Being in close proximity to Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station and the regional Military Entrance Processing Station, NU is responsive to the unique needs of military students, veterans and dependents.
Niagara University participates in the Department of Veterans Affairs GI Bill Yellow Ribbon Program, a provision of the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008.