Photo by David Norris
Josh Grove shortly before graduating in 2018.
Since the time Bethany senior Josh Grove turned sixteen years old, he had an idea, let’s say a plan, about his post high school education. In his mind, the plan was set in stone, and it had nothing to do with Bethany Lutheran College.
“Since my sophomore year in high school, I was dead set on attending West Point [United States Military Academy]. Everything I did in high school was in some way connected to bolstering my [West Point] application to help increase my odds of acceptance. Failure was not an option, and it wasn’t until my parents convinced me that I needed a contingency plan [if West Point did not offer acceptance] that I started looking at alternate colleges.
“So, while I was continuing to develop my West Point application, I applied for a four-year National Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) Scholarship and looked for a college that I could use it at. I knew that my older sister, Rebecca, was attending Bethany, and she loved it. I decided to apply [to Bethany] as my backup to West Point.”
The advice of Grove’s parents turned to reality when he wasn’t accepted at West Point. Grove was devastated by the news, and he wasn’t exactly excited about following his older sister to Bethany. But, that’s where his story takes an interesting twist.
“After I received the denial letter from West Point, I was absolutely crushed. I had worked on building my resume for three years in hopes that I would be accepted, and it almost felt like all that work had been pointless. I didn’t really want to go to Bethany, and I felt that my calling was to West Point. In total, I applied to two colleges, West Point and Bethany, and I never anticipated that I would end up at Bethany.
“But God has a unique way about shaping futures, and I told myself that I would attend Bethany for one year, get some Army experience in the ROTC program at Minnesota State University (MSU), and then reapply to West Point the following year. But things changed, after about a semester in God really opened my eyes and showed me that I was right where He wanted me to be.
“I found myself falling in love with the people at Bethany, growing closer to the community, and strengthening my relationship with God. At that point I knew I was in the right pace and decided to stay at Bethany and finish my degree and the four-year ROTC program at MSU. (The Minnesota State Maverick Battalion is comprised of students from Bethany Lutheran College, Gustavus Adolphus College, and Minnesota State University, Mankato.)
Grove was recently honored as one of the top Army ROTC Cadets in the nation. The honored Cadets are nominated based on scholarship, leadership, physical fitness, and community involvement and are designated George C. Marshall Award recipients for their respective year. The two hundred seventy-five honorees from across the nation are college seniors, and most of them hold senior leadership positions within their Army ROTC detachments. As a result of this award, Grove was invited to attend the 39th annual George C. Marshall Leadership & Awards Seminar at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
As an ROTC member, Grove has kept very busy throughout his four years at Bethany. During the school year, Grove and other Maverick Battalion Cadets take part in physical training in the mornings three to five times a week, participate in weekly Lead Labs, conduct Field Training Exercises (FTX) once a semester, and enlist in different competitions around the country. Grove has also sought out extra training opportunities offered by the Army. During summer breaks he’s spent time in Turkey training with the Turkish Land Forces, participated and graduated from both the Airborne and Air Assault School, and interned at the Army’s Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense in Aberdeen, Maryland.
“The ROTC experience has been fantastic! I’ve been able to develop as a future leader and acquire skills to be successful both as an Army Officer and as a future civilian. I absolutely love the unique training opportunities I’ve taken part in overseas and within the United States. Not only are they relevant to my career, they are also once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. At times, it has been a challenging and rigid experience, but well worth it and I wouldn’t go back and change a thing. With respect to the award, it was nice to see all the hard work and time I’ve put into ROTC pay off. I have the privilege of graduating in the top ten percent of Army ROTC Cadets this year, and my commissioning class has the honor of being ranked the highest in the country.”
While Groves’ commitment to his ROTC program is quite evident, he is even more candid when you ask him about his Bethany experience.
“Bethany, without a doubt, surpassed my expectations! I absolutely loved the Bethany experience and the knowledge I gained is priceless! The psychology major not only equipped me with the tools to be successful in the field of psychology, but the career development courses taught me unique skills that will better help me to serve God, my family, and any other field I might find myself in. It was through Bethany that I was able to meet my beautiful fiancée, Jemimah, and I am truly blessed to have her in my life. In the end, Bethany set me up for success in ways I could have never imagined. I wouldn’t trade Bethany for the world, and I thank God every day that the rejection letter from West Point found its way into my mailbox.”
Grove earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology with minors in business administration and military science on May 11, 2018. He and Jem were married on May 19, 2018. ROTC Cadets are commissioned as active duty officers upon graduation from college and Grove will become an Active Duty Medical Service Corps 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army one week prior to his BLC graduation. In mid-July he will report to Fort Sam Houston, Texas, to complete Basic Officer Leadership Course, and after that he will report to his first duty station in Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, to begin his service in the U.S. Army.