Hometown: Dublin, OH
1. What drew you to Saint Mary’s?
To be honest, Saint Mary’s was one of my last choices. I never in a million years thought I would be at SMC, but everything works out the way it is supposed to and it was God´s plan for me to go here. I would not trade this experience because of the awesome people I have met. I was looking at Saint Mary’s because they have a good nursing program and Notre Dame has the best Navy ROTC unit in the country. Also, Saint Mary’s is well endowed, so if the Navy thing ended up not being a good fit for me, I could stay at Saint Mary’s and not have to transfer due to the expense of attending a private college.
2. Can you tell us more about the ROTC program and what branch you are a part of?
I am in the Naval branch of ROTC. We have PT (physical training) at least twice a week, and drill on Wednesday nights. Drill is usually a guest speaker or some sort of training powerpoint. Every ROTC kid in Navy has a bunch of academic requirements like taking a Naval Science course every semester along with calculus, physics, military history, and a couple other required courses. Lucky for me, I am a nursing major so I am exempt from a lot of those classes. Calculus and physics would be the death of me! Navy has a lot of annual events like Naval Ball, which is a dinner/dance that celebrates the birthdays of the Navy and Marine Corps. We also have Warrior Night which the Marine Corps organizes as a last hoorah for the seniors. There is always a freshmen retreat, a 24 hour run, a 5k, and a Naval Leadership Weekend we host. Besides those, we do a lot of small community service things. There is plenty to be involved in through ROTC!
3. What inspired you to become part of the ROTC program?
I decided to apply for a Naval ROTC scholarship my senior year of high school because I thought being a nurse in the Navy aligned with my career goals. I love to travel, so if I were to be a civilian nurse I would try to be a traveling nurse. In the Navy, I will have a chance to travel all over the world. Also, I chose nursing and the Navy because I wanted a career where I could help others. Both of those goals were reached through getting my Navy Nurse Corps scholarship. Last but not least, the scholarship pays for all of my tuition. That was huge for my family and me, and although that was a huge reason why I initially chose to do ROTC, it isn’t about the money because I actually do enjoy being in the military.
4. What is the most challenging part?
The most challenging part is juggling my classes with ROTC commitments, volunteering, and other clubs. At one point, I had a job too. I was in way over my head and I felt like I was drowning the whole semester, but I refused to quit my job or anything else because to me, quitting something wasn’t the solution. Another challenging thing is staying awake in class. Many students fall asleep in class; it happens all the time. For me and the other ROTC girls, a lot of times we just can´t help it. For the Navy girls, we wake up at 5:00am twice a week to work out. With our heavy homework load we sometimes don’t get more than 4 hours of sleep those nights. I look lazy sleeping in class, but as much as I try to stay awake, the head bobs start and I am out like a light. The worst part is, I miss out on something the professor said. To all my professors, I formally apologize for the head bobs and short power naps in your classes; I truly can’t help that my body shuts down.
5. What is the most rewarding part?
The most rewarding part of ROTC is the people I have met and the opportunities the program has given me. The program is meant to train you mentally and physically. We do tons of things that build character and leadership skills because when we graduate we will be leading enlisted sailors. Their lives will be in our hands and that is a huge responsibility. We practice making difficult decisions in tough situations so when the time comes, we know how to approach problems. Not many college students can say they are getting prime training that is improving them as a person mentally and physically.
6. What is something most people don’t know about the ROTC program?
Most people don´t know that I actually have no idea how to beat someone up….shocker! Everyone assumes that since I am in the military I am taught how to beat people up, but in actuality, I have never been taught anything like that. I just laugh when people say I can beat someone up because it is not true at all.
7. What else are you involved with on or off campus?
I am in Friends with Sisters, was on Class Board for the past 2 years, tutor a local 9th grader, Bible study through Young Life, and volunteer at South Bend’s Center for the Homeless. I am heavily involved in ROTC activities like planning the freshmen retreat and Naval Leadership Weekend.
8. You are currently in Spain, tell us more about that!
I am currently writing to you from Spain! I will be in Spain for about 5 weeks this summer. The first 3 ½ I am staying with a family in a pueblo outside of Seville. They own a bakery so I have gotten to make pastries a few times! I also took Flamenco dancing lessons and went to a music festival in Rota (the festival is like the Coachella of Spain). I head to Madrid in a few days to be a volunteer in an English immersion program for people ages 18-24. It is for native Spanish speakers to be immersed in the English language. The group I am in, the Anglos, is comprised of native English speakers, not just from the US. We hang out with the Spanish people all day for a week and only speak to them in English. We teach them about our cultures and talk about basically anything. After the program I am touring Madrid with my mom and then I have to go back to school. Before Spain, I went to Ecuador through the Saint Mary’s Biology Department. I think it might have been one of the best trips of my life. If you are into outdoorsy things, or want to experience something brand new, I highly suggest you go on the trip! It was 2 ½ weeks broken down into time in Quito, Ecuador, the Amazon Rainforest, and living on a boat in the Galapagos Islands. I went with a great group of SMC girls and Dr. Fogle and Mrs. Eleff are probably two of the best professors you could travel with. Very few people get to say they have hiked in the Andes Mountains, lived in the Amazon Rainforest, and visited the Galapagos islands.
9. What is your favorite spot on campus?
My favorite place on campus is Le Mans Hall. It is the prime location for anything you need on campus. I can get to class in less than 3 minutes and I can take the tunnel to the dining hall when it is a polar vortex outside. There are tons of places to study and it is one of the prettiest buildings on campus. It will be my home for the second year in a row and I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else
10. What is something on your college bucket list?
Something on my college bucket list is to take a nap in every building on campus. I believe I am more than half way done with that!
Photos: Provided by Author