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Justin Ruth


United States Army Second Lieutenant Justin Ruth ’21 graduated from Holy Cross College with a major in business and minors in marketing and communications. He chose this field of study because he plans to start his own construction company after completing his military service. While in school, he focused on project management, accounting, and entrepreneurship to establish a strong base for his future.

Why Holy Cross College

“The close proximity to my hometown, the University of Notre Dame Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program, the student to professor ratio, and tight-knit community,” said the Buchanan, Michigan native.

On-campus activities

Within the Army ROTC Clubs, he joined several different groups. One organization is the Notre Dame Army ROTC Color Guard Club, responsible for presenting the Nation’s colors at sporting events, campus events, and areas events – most notably the Notre Dame football games. His involvement with this club came from a desire to represent the United States in multiple facets and connect with the public.

“Iron Irish is a Notre Dame Army ROTC weightlifting club that I helped create. I gained an appreciation for weightlifting in high school, so I used my experience to help create one of the largest Notre Dame ROTC clubs,” noted Ruth. “I also joined the Notre Dame Army ROTC Rifle Team because I have a lot of experience with firearms, and I enjoy shooting.”

At Holy Cross College, he participated in the intramurals program.

“I was a three-sport athlete in high school, so intramurals were a chance for me to flex my competitive muscles. I started playing intramural sports because I missed the camaraderie of being on a team. It was also a great way to connect with and make new friends,” said Ruth.

Reserve Officers' Training Corps

“I have been in the University of Notre Dame Army ROTC program since my freshman year. The program was ultimately the factor that led me to Holy Cross. I did not come into the program with the four-year national scholarship, so I had to earn a scholarship. After a semester in the program, I earned a three-year full-tuition scholarship and officially became a part of the United States Army. Army ROTC was a huge part of my college experience. Between physical training twice a week, weekly labs, weekend training exercises, and summer opportunities, the program strengthened my leadership ability and helped me create some great friendships,” said Ruth.

While in the program, he spent a month in Santiago, Chile, training with the Chilean Army as part of the Army’s Cultural Understanding and Learning Program. He also graduated from Air Assault School through the Lightning Academy, a training unit for the 25th Infantry Division based out of Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. He spent two-and-a-half weeks in Hawaii while attending this course.

Noteworthy experience

“I would say the most memorable moment that has impacted who I am today would be getting denied entry into the United States Coast Guard Academy. At the beginning of my junior year of high school, I was expecting to attend the Coast Guard Academy. I was in talks with their football program, and I was likely to get in. The acceptance letters began coming out at the beginning of my senior year. I was, unfortunately, waitlisted; however, I still anticipated getting in. I did not receive an admission decision until my graduation day. I made the unwise choice to put all of my time and effort into getting into the Coast Guard Academy. I was left lost and confused; however, this decision ultimately led me to Holy Cross College and put me on the path I am today,” noted Ruth.

Future is bright

“Upon graduation, I am commissioned in the U.S. Army as a Second Lieutenant. I am joining the Armor Branch, an armored warfare combat arms branch with Tankers and Cavalry Scouts. I am an active duty officer with a four-year contractual service obligation. At the moment, I am unsure how long I will stay in the Army. I plan to stay in until it is not fun anymore,” said Ruth, who would like to eventually get married, start a family, and open a construction business specializing in dirt-moving, demolition, excavation, and residential concrete. “I may continue my education and receive my MBA. The G.I. Bill, and programs such as Yellow Ribbon, make it very plausible for me to pursue a master’s.”

"I was a three-sport athlete in high school, so intramurals were a chance for me to flex my competitive muscles. I started playing intramural sports because I missed the camaraderie of being on a team. It was also a great way to connect with and make new friends."