rotcMany students can tell you what a sunset at Georgetown looks like. Few can tell you what a sunrise on campus looks like. Even fewer can tell you what a sunrise looks like from the top of Kehoe Field. If you happen to be up around 6:30 in the morning during the fall, you’ll have the privilege of watching the last wisps of the midnight sky fade into the pink-tinged clouds that signal the start of the day. And if the day you’re up watching the sunrise is a Monday, Wednesday or Friday, you’ll probably see me.

I’m not a varsity athlete, and I’m not enough of an early bird that that I get to Yates at sunrise just to beat the crowds. What I am is a proud member of the Hoya Battalion, Georgetown’s Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program.

The Hoya Battalion breaks down into two companies composed of four universities in D.C.: American University and Georgetown make up Alpha Company, while George Washington University and Catholic University make up Bravo Company. Georgetown’s platoon is better known as A2 because it’s the second platoon of Alpha Company. It is made up of about 25 Georgetown students who are all amazing, talented people in their own rights. We’re a group of people from all walks of life, but we are united in the choice we make every day we’re up at o’dark thirty: choosing to serve our nation.

As one of the few women in ROTC at Georgetown, I get a lot of questions. From the serious “How do you feel about being a woman in a male-dominated organization?” to the amusing “Don’t you think so-and-so in your platoon is cute?” plenty of people ask me for my perspective on the program and how it’s affecting my college experience. As a disclaimer, the opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent the ROTC program or the United States Army. The truth is that without ROTC, my college experience would be incomplete. I entered the program as a new cadet, shortly after classes started my freshman year, so I’ve never really experienced college without ROTC. As a current sophomore, I wouldn’t have it any other way. ROTC has changed my life for the better and I can’t imagine my life if I weren’t a member of the program.

But to answer the question about being a woman in a male-dominated organization, it isn’t something I spend too much time actively thinking about. Do I notice it? Yes, but it’s noticeable in other organizations, not just ROTC. Outside of differences in physical fitness standards, I don’t believe being a woman has made my experience any different than a male cadet’s. The purpose of ROTC is to develop the best military leaders possible, and gender doesn’t play a role in how much mentoring and development you receive during your time as a cadet. That’s another reason I can’t imagine my life without this program. I’ve had — and continue to have — amazing mentors who are invested in my success and inspire me to do things I would never consider on my own. It’s never a question of where to get help with an issue — be it academic or personal — but when, because both the upperclassmen and your classmates are always there when you need them. No one would ask something of you that they believe you aren’t capable of, and if something is difficult for you to accomplish, they’ll work with you until you get it.

Being around so many guys is, as a friend called it, “an important educational experience.” I’ve learned a lot from the guys in my platoon: about what it means to be confident in your abilities, how to carry yourself with pride and how to speak so others listen. The guys in my platoon have taught me that the privilege of someone’s respect isn’t to be taken lightly and that to lead a group of people effectively requires more than just a high rank. These are men I am glad to call the brothers I’ve never really had, and I’m grateful to have met them.

ROTC is something I try not to take for granted and to truly enjoy. I have found that being a member of ROTC is an honor, and to be a member of Georgetown’s ROTC program doubly so.

Brenna Muldrow is a sophomore in the McDonough School of Business.

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