Alex Wagner: Nursing Major and ROTC Member

Alex Wagner is a junior at Siena College. She is a Nursing major, and is in the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC). ROTC is a program offered at more than 1,700 colleges in the United States, and prepares students to become officers in the U.S. military. She has two brothers, and one of them is in the Army. Alex is the first woman in her family to have joined the military. She also has five dogs, who she adores.

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Her Campus Siena: What made you want to be a Nursing major?

Alex Wagner: My mom worked in a hospital when I was growing up so I had her to look up to as a role model. My Grandpa also had lung cancer so I was exposed to the hospital at an early age. I would go to his doctor appointments with my mom, and I always had good experiences with the caretakers at the hospital. As a result, this encouraged me to want to have a positive impact on people’s lives as well. 

HCS: What influenced you to join ROTC?

AW: Before attending Siena, I was previously enlisted in the army as an E4 (ranking as a Specialist). In order to be a nurse in the military I have to become an officer, and ROTC provides me the opportunity to become one. At the end of my four years, I will commission as an officer and become a nurse in the army.  

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HCS: Is it difficult balancing the academic workload of a nursing major and the physical workload of being a member in ROTC?

AW: It’s not the physical part of ROTC, it’s more the mental aspect and trying to balance my time management when it comes to studying, classes, workouts, clinicals, etc. I have to take core classes, mandatory credits for my nursing major, and then a class required for ROTC every semester, which can be challenging. 

HCS: How do you cope with/handle the extra stress put on your academic career and daily life from ROTC?

AW: I cope by relying on my family and friends for emotional support. I try to spend part of the weekend with my friends and the other part of the weekend with my family. I’ll usually go home for the day to hang out with them. I’ve realized that nursing school has brought out my emotions more from the added stress, so having a support system is so important. 

HCS: What does a typical week look like for you?

AW: I have eight hour clinicals on Mondays and Tuesdays from 7a.m. to 3 p.m. On Tuesdays I also have an ROTC class from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., so I have to show up late after clinical. I try to fit an hour workout in on Mondays and Tuesdays as well. I have physical training at 4 a.m. or 5 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays and I also have a “ruck” on Thursday mornings where I get up around 4 a.m. to run eight miles with a weighted backpack on. But I don't get a break after the ruck, then I have to drive back to campus and go to class from 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., attend lab from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and then after a thirty minute break, I have ROTC lab for three hours in the woods where I do land navigation or pistol shooting. 

HCS: Wow that sounds like a long week. Do you feel you get enough sleep?

AW: No, in an average night I get about five to six hours of sleep.

HCS: Do you feel you are still able to achieve a social life?

AW: It’s not possible to have one during the school week, but I make up for it by hanging out with my friends and family on the weekends.

HCS: Do you ever regret either becoming a nursing major or joining ROTC due to the workload?

AW: I don’t regret it, but at the same time I also regret it. I guess I regret not weighing out my options more before making my college decisions. I should have gone to trade school for welding since there are not many people in the trade industry anymore. Welding also would have been an amazing skill to pick up.

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If you think being a nursing major is hard enough, being in ROTC increases that difficulty level tremendously. Despite the challenges Alex endures both academically and as a member of ROTC, she still finds the strength and motivation to study, get good grades, stay fit, and balance a social life. This endurance has also helped shape the person she is today; tough mentally and physically, determined, resilient, a hard worker, loyal, and an amazing friend.