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Being A Girl In ROTC!

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Baylor chapter.

     “Imagine building a military career while simultaneously doing all the ‘normal’ college girl things. Pulling all-nighters, decorating a dorm room, AND having hours of PT and a camo uniform to clean each week. ROTC stands for Reserve Officer Training Corps, and joining it has been the best decision I’ve made in college so far. I’m sure you know a few pre-law students, well here are my experiences as a pre-army student at Baylor!”  Being a female in a male-dominated organization can be difficult, and sometimes it can be hard to adjust to the ‘rough and tough’ of pre-army life. Here are a few quick tips for all of my ROTC ladies. Waterproof mascara is your newest bestie. If you are someone, like myself, who prefers to wear mascara and eyeliner everyday, you won’t want the heat and sweat of the day to run down your face while you do push-ups. Trust me, it will keep your sergeant from laughing while they yell at you (no one likes looking like a clown- amirite?). Secondly, invest in REAL sports bras that you’re okay with getting destroyed. I love my lululemons, but I could never wear them to physical training.Thrifted sports bras are perfect for the outdoor exercises and under the camo uniforms. The last small piece of advice I have would be to find a buddy! I was not physically prepared for the program when I joined, but I met up with a fellow cadet and we workout together everyday!

     As I said, the life of a cadet (that’s our student title in the program) is a little different than that of a regular student. Baylor cadets wake up at around 4:45a.m. and go to physical training until 7:00 am. Then, on top of all the other classes we take for our majors, ROTC students also have to take Military Science twice a week. The class consists of vocabulary and military terms and the added lab is where cadets learn how to march, give and receive commands, and perform other military duties that prepare us for the real army. The Baylor cadet’s uniform is called an OCP, which are the green camouflage jacket and pants, you’ve probably seen them a few times around campus. And yes, we absolutely HAVE to wear it in that muggy 105 degree Waco heat! The uniforms are going to be made in men’s sizes. This is not ideal, but most girls in the program have found ways to make it work. I suggest making sure you get a size small belt, wear multiple layers of socks, and cuff the end of the jacket sleeves. 

     When I first joined ROTC, I thought I would be met with toxic masculinity, a less than warm environment, and possibly sexism. My experience has been the opposite! I met a group of friends my first week, who happen to be all guys, and all of them have helped me with my physical training and encouraged me not to give up when it gets really hard. Girls are absolutely treated equally by the Baylor ROTC program leadership. In and out of our uniforms we are a team in which everyone has a purpose. It came as a very welcome surprise to see that a lot of girls are a part of the program and there is an incredible amount of diversity! I would say in the freshman class of ROTC almost 25% are girls. Additionally, the Baylor Army ROTC program is run by two women and a female cadet, who runs PT .The fact that our top leadership are  women is very encouraging to me because it proves that I am capable of doing that too.We never really have to discuss gender in ROTC because we all look the same in our uniforms. Our leaders support and criticize the guys and girls the same amount. We freshman girls in ROTC have a snapchat group (named Army Bratz of course) where we ask each other questions and really just be each other’s cheerleaders. This program emphasizes community so much, and we are given the maximum amount of support to reach our goals. For example, we are encouraged to hang out with other “battle buddies” on the weekends and join ROTC-specific extracurriculars (I just joined an all-girl kickback team for ROTC members).Everyone is given so much support in order for them to do their personal best. The program emphasizes community so much! For example, we’re encouraged to hang out with other cadets and have “battle buddies” on weekends and to join ROTC-specific extra-curriculars (I just joined an all-female kickball team for ROTC cadets).  I have no idea what I am doing, but I am surrounded by the most supportive team I have ever been a part of. I had a lot of expectations when I last-minute joined the ROTC program at Baylor, and I am glad none of them were true. As a girl, I have never felt more at home or supported than I have in this program. From the female leadership pushing me to do my best to the lifelong friendships I am making, I am so happy to have joined ROTC. I hope to see more strong women joining our ranks in the coming years and look forward to the impact I can make in the military-world.

Hey y'all! I am happy to be a part of Her Campus! I am a Political science major in the Baylor University Honors College, as well as an Army ROTC cadet. I love to paddle board, kayak, and mountain climb(really any outdoor adventure sport). I have an obsession with coffee and labradoodles. I've been to 39 states and I can't wait to travel and share some stories!