Name: Johnna Sims
Year in School: Senior/ MS4
Major: Gender and Women’s Studies
Organization/ Position: ROTC, S3 (Operations), Cadet Sergeant Major
Why I’m interviewing her: Johnna has been a huge influence on me in the ROTC program. I really look up to her. Johnna is an amazing leader in the Army ROTC program, and will be an exceptional officer in the United States Army.
Her Campus: In high school, what prepared you for college? Johnna Sims: I would say I was pretty unprepared for college in high school. I never planned on going, but it is something that I eventually just found myself doing. What prepared me for college was the break I took before coming to college. I spent a couple years living in Austin, Texas, working and living on my own. I realized I’d need a degree to do the things in life that were important to me and eventually I found myself in community college. Everything flows from there. HC: Why did you join ROTC? JS: My dad was in the army while I was growing up. I’ve always respected the man he is and the work he does. That was a large part of what lead me to feel called towards the military. HC: What is your favorite part of ROTC? JS: The people. Without a doubt. I have had the opportunity to do some really cool, really scary things in the past 2.5 years and I doubt I would have pursued those things if I didn’t have these people in my life.
HC: What is the most difficult part of ROTC, and how do you cope with it? JS: ROTC and the Army in general are pretty demanding. There are some huge benefits to being in the military, but things are constantly changing and you are regularly asked to do things outside of the traditional 9-5 work model. It’s important to recognize this and keep a level head and positive attitude when things are chaotic or stressful. I do this by being picky with my time. Outside of ROTC I try not to worry about ROTC, if I’m with people I value I put my phone away and focus on them, I make sure that every weekend I do something that I want to do and not just need to – camping, going out, movie night, whatever – it’s something that gives me a break from the demands put on me by school, ROTC, competitive teams, etc. HC: How, if any way, have you changed since your freshman year? JS: My freshman year was 6 years ago, so I’ve changed a lot. I started school when I was living in Texas and I had a phenomenal experience at a community college where I got my EMT. Since then I’ve moved, changed degrees, joined ROTC, and gotten to have some really unique experiences. I’m a lot more patient now. I’m more focused and good to myself. I’m more comfortable and confident in myself, which allows me to be better to the people in my life. I have a better understanding of things I can change and things I need to accept. My freshman year was pretty exceptional and since then the years have just gotten better and better.
HC: Where do you see yourself after graduation? JS: Hopefully at Fort Rucker, Alabama going through Flight School to be a pilot in the Army. HC: Where do you see yourself in 5 years? JS: I’ll be a handful of years into my service with the military, which means I have no idea where I will physically be. I’ll likely have a deployment under my belt and ideally lots of flight hours. HC: Where do you see yourself in 20 years? JS: I have a handful of things that I want out of life – to continuously grow and learn, to surround myself with people who make me better, and to have a life filled with risk, adventure, and challenges. There are a lot of different paths that would still afford me all of those things. I might make a career of the Army and I might decide there are things that might fit me better. I’d like to get a second degree at some point. There are some schools that the military offers that I’d like to take advantage of. The biggest thing I want between now and 20 years from now is to feel challenged at each step between here and there. HC: What values have you learned while in college? JS: My dad used to tell me this story about two lumberjacks who were cutting wood. Every hour one of the lumberjacks took a break to sit down and sharpen his axe, while the other lumberjack continued chopping away. At the end of the day the lumberjack who took breaks to sharpen his axe had cut more wood. His blade was sharper, his muscles less fatigued, and his effectiveness increased. Take time to sharpen your axe. Focus intensely when you’re in class or doing homework and when you’re not – don’t! Turn off your phone, go outside, do something that is not school – anything that allows you to recharge your batteries. HC: What advice do you have to give to someone wanting to join ROTC? JS: It’s a commitment. You’re agreeing to put in early mornings and late nights. You will sacrifice weekends and sleeping in a bed and eating food that didn’t expire ten years ago – but it is because of this that you will meet some of the most exceptional people. Everyone in UW’s ROTC program has the same training requirements and it is your personal responsibility to make the training effective and enjoyable. The people who perform the best are typically those who can be in really uncomfortable situations and make them fun.
All photos compliments of Johnna Sims IG (@jdawgboss)