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The obvious question, answered

October 04, 2010 | Cadet Jennifer Tedder

Probably the question that I hear most often is, "So why did you join?" I am self-admittedly an anomaly; I truthfully do not fit the typical soldier-mold whatsoever, which (I am sad to say) invites a great deal of oft-cruel mockery and harassment from my fellow cadets. To give you an idea: I prefer skipping to walking, I would rather spend time baking a cake from scratch than playing Call of Duty, and my favorite outfits involve red high heels and pearls.


I could spout off a list of patriotic for-God-and-Country sap, but although such reasons of course played a role in my decision, none would be completely true. Honestly, my foray into the military began out of the frustration I felt with college the first semester of my freshman year. Only taking 12 credits (after withdrawing from Intro Bio once I realized I had absolutely no desire to continue on the Pre-Med track), I found myself with an overwhelming amount of free time and not much with which to fill it. I volunteered as much as I could, mostly as a tutor to elementary school children in English, and participated in Model U.N. (I'm kind of a nerd), but still didn't feel like I was making the best use of my time; I craved more structure in my life.

One morning in particular, I saw a group of cadets run by in their PT's and realized that I wanted to be like them. So, much to the dismay of my roommate, I decided to start ROTC the following semester. After going to PT three times a week and Field Training Exercises every other weekend, something sparked. I ended up really enjoying almost everything about ROTC, and decided to contract the following year when I was awarded a 3-year-scholarship. The fact that ROTC paid for my $55k/year education is also amazing; I would otherwise be drowning in debt upon graduation. Moreover, I am the kind of person who likes a certain degree of certainty in her life. Knowing that I have a secure job of sorts, albeit not full-time as I'm in the reserves, allows me the reassurance that I have a career option that I can fall back on if I for some reason am not able to find a suitable civilian career after I graduate.

Needless to say, my MSII year was what I fondly refer to as my honeymoon period with ROTC. I was so deeply in love with all of the benefits - my newly toned muscles from PT every morning, an instant group of friends, oodles and oodles of free-flowing cash, the looks of shock and awe on others' faces when they heard I was in the Army, the opportunities to do cool stuff like jump out of planes - that I neglected to recognize the inevitable costs that made the last half of my junior year (and the summer thereafter) less than pleasant.

That, however, is for another post.

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