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Meet Hyllarie Barillas, Gustavus Sophomore and ROTC Member!

I interviewed my friend and future neighbor, Hyllarie Barillas. Hyllarie is very involved in the GAC community and her dedication to this school is admirable. Continue reading to learn more about Hyllarie, her life at GAC, and the time she spends as a member of the ROTC!

Name, year and major?

“Hyllarie Barillas, Sophomore, Exercise Physiology”

Photo taken by Yousef Alfuhigi


“Jordan, Minnesota.”

Favorite food at the caf and favorite drink at the courtyard caf?

“Vegan chicken, brown rice, and broccoli. Iced dirty chai latte with espresso.”

What organizations/clubs are you a part of?

“I’m in the Sigma Sigma Sigma sorority, cheerleading, ROTC (Reserve Officers’ Training Corps), I’m the New Member Co-Chair for IGS (Inter-Greek Senate), and Gustie Buddies!”

You did something challenging this past weekend, what was it and what was your experience like?

“I went to Camp Ripley in Little Falls from Friday morning to Sunday afternoon with the Maverick Battalion (GAC is a part of this battalion). Every day we did something different. Friday, we did day/night land navigation throughout the woods. Saturday, we practiced multiple tactics with our platoons and squads. To finish off the weekend, there was roughly a 3-mile ruck (walking with a backpack filled with military gear usually weighing about 35 lbs). It was definitely a unique experience. I think the toughest part for me was sleeping outside in the woods for two days. We didn’t have tents or anything; it was just the grass, my thin sleeping bag, and the cold wind that made it feel like it was below zero. The four layers I had on didn’t help at all. I’ve never been much of an outdoors person, because I hate bugs and being in the woods, so it was definitely out of my comfort zone. But overall, I enjoyed it very much. I was able to learn a lot and think about some challenges that I could potentially face in the future as an officer in the Army.

What pushed you to make the decision to be involved in the ROTC/military?

“I have always looked into joining the Army. As a junior in highschool, I was really close to contracting but my parents kept me from it because I was only 17 and needed their permission, which of course I didn’t receive. I pushed the idea aside, but coming into my second year at GAC one of my friends that’s in ROTC talked about it with me. She informed me about ROTC and what it was because I hadn’t heard of it before. I thought about it for weeks and I couldn’t get the idea out of my head, so I followed my heart and decided to become a part of it. Since then, I think it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I enjoy it so much and I don’t regret my decision one bit.”

What are some obstacles you have faced this far and how have you been able to overcome them?

“There have been a few obstacles that I have faced since I decided to join ROTC. The biggest I think was dealing with my dad. My dad wasn’t a big fan of the idea. When I told him that I had joined ROTC, he didn’t talk to me for two weeks. He thought I was making a big mistake and was angry that I didn’t listen to him. After those two weeks, he came to his senses and realized he was wrong for being mad. He was just scared of the idea that his ‘little girl’ was going to be in the Army. What he didn’t understand was that this was something I truly wanted and that I had dreamed about doing for years. After a semester of being in ROTC, my dad has come around a lot more. He believes in me and cheers me on whenever I tell him I have something big coming up that involves ROTC. He still doesn’t 100% agree with me, but he understands and respects my decisions.”

What motivates you?​

“My parents definitely motivate me. They have made me into the strong, independent woman that I am to them and I want to make them proud. All I want in life is for them to be proud of me and I feel like they did an amazing job at raising me. All of my friends at GAC also motivate me. They have been a huge part of my experience here at GAC and since I joined ROTC, they have been super supportive and encouraging. I appreciate every single one of them and I’m super blessed to have each of them in my life. Finally, thinking of future and goals motivates me. I can’t wait to be an officer in the U.S Army and hopefully a nurse in the future. I know I can do anything I set my mind to. It won’t be easy at all, nothing in life is really easy. But with the help of God and all my supporters, I know I’ll be able to reach my goals and live the life I’ve always dreamt.”

Hello my name is Yesenia. I am a Sophomore at Gustavus Adolphus college. I am hoping to major in Psychology and Studio Art to be an art therapist. I enjoy seeing and making art and I also like to help people. I love coffee and fall time is my favorite season because of all the pretty colors and comfy clothes.
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