Robin Myers didn’t grow up with the lingering patriotic dream of serving her country in the armed forces. In fact, she didn’t even come from a military family where wearing a uniform was the norm. So when she joined the ROTC, she not only surprised herself, but also everyone that knew her.
“When I first told my dad, he said, ‘you know Robin, they only have one kind of boot,” she explains.
The 22 year-old psychology major was introduced to the program through a presentation and on a whim, decided to give it a shot. “It just fit,” she says. And it fit enough for Myers to sign an intent contract with the military her junior year.
Myers is one of the seven female cadets from TCNJ enrolled in the Army ROTC program. And that small number, she explains, is considered a large dose of girl power.
“The Army is definitely male-dominated. There is no way it’s not. As long as you can put up with the guys’ jokes and you don’t take it to heart, you’ll be fine,” she says.
She may not be as strong as the guys in the ROTC, but it doesn’t mean she isn’t physically fit.
Three days a week, Myers crawls out of bed at the break of dawn and pumps out push-ups, sit-ups, and miles of running on the track with her fellow male and female teammates. The cadets are required to work out during the week to prepare for the official PT test given junior year.
On top of weekly workouts, Myers and her teammates complete labs that consist of day and night land navigation and battlefield-like missions. The cadets are also required to take practical ROTC classes taught by Cadres, essentially ROTC professors.
In classes and labs, the female and male ROTC members are always together and Myers prefers it that way. “Most of the guys are very supportive. My whole life I’ve found that I get along with guys a lot better, just because I don’t like drama. I’m a very laidback person and it’s kind of nice because I fit in a lot better,” she says.
Myers knows her muscles can’t compare to that of a male ROTC cadet and she’s positive that she can’t do as many push ups, but being a girl gives her an advantage sometimes. “Being a girly-girl, I go more prepared. When we went to camp, I had a pound of baby wipes,” she laughs.
For a girl who only ever went camping twice in her life, she can certainly hold her own. During the required month-long summer camp in Washington her junior year, Myers slept outside for two weeks without a shower. She braided her hair, drenched it with hairspray, and up in a bun it went.
“When I put on the uniform, I don’t really care what I look like. I care about how my actions make me look like and how they are representing me,” she says.
Throughout her time serving in the ROTC, Myers has been lucky enough to travel around the country and even spend a month in Bangkok, Thailand where she taught the ABCs and 123’s in English to children in daycare.
The soft-spoken senior is even getting used to raising her voice without letting out bursts of laughter during commands—an occurrence that made even the Cadres chuckle.
“I have a very soft voice and I get made fun of all the time! I have gotten a lot better at it,” Myers jokingly explains.
Through all her experiences, Myers admits she has seen a positive growth in herself. “In high school, I never wanted to have conflict. Now, I am forced to be confident and lead other people,” she says.
She has become the trusted source for advice and become the “mom” for her teammates. Her main struggle is remembering that she is at the top of the program and has to be a role model for the cadets underneath her-even the guys. “I feel like I am constantly trying to prove myself that I am what I am,” she says. “In the end, it makes us smarter.”
Females are definitely outnumbered in the ROTC, but Myers says it’s probably best that way. “We need the guys too because if it was just an Army of girls that would be way too crazy. Way too crazy!”
After graduation, Myers plans on enrolling in an accelerated nursing program and serving as an active-duty nurse in the Army. She gets bored easily and has always had the desire to help people; so nursing seemed like another perfect “fit.”
Upon first joining, Myers was afraid she would become an “outcast.” But going in with open eyes, she quickly put all her preconceived stereotypes to rest and hopes others will as well.
Myers and the ROTC girls may be learning and practicing the basics of the battlefield, but in some way or another, they are just like any other group of TCNJ women.
“Don’t assume that we’re not like you. We are different and have gone through different experiences, but we are just females too,” she says.