I prefer being out early. Providence is quiet in the mornings and I enjoy the serenity as I walk to my car. I pass by athletes on their way to their own early-morning challenge. As a varsity athlete myself, this early morning is a natural part of the day. Balancing rugby and ROTC is not easy: I cannot play my sport at 100% commitment and also fulfill my commitments to ROTC and the Ranger Challenge team. But I make priorities and stay focused to make it happen.
I pick up one of my Ranger Challenge teammates and we head 10 minutes away to Lincoln Woods for practice. Ranger Challenge is a team within ROTC for people who want to train harder and compete against other battalions. While ROTC normally does physical training in the mornings only 3 days a week, Ranger Challenge meets every morning until the competition. But we are rewarded for this effort with a very close community, personal fulfillment, and recognition on the Order of Merit list.
Practice today is fun. We are learning one of the key events in the competition - the one-rope bridge. Our team captain walks us through the process and then we spend the hour drilling the technique and practicing crossing the obstacle. As a reward for our work, we are treated to a beautiful sunrise over the lake.
Back to Brown
We drive back to Brown, I drop my teammate off, then I head up to the varsity weight room, and change out of my Army uniform into my rugby uniform. This is a great time to blow off steam. The weight room plays loud music and I can talk and laugh with my teammates while getting a good workout in. It is fun today, but when we have an especially painful Ranger Challenge practice, heading to rugby right afterwards is not as pleasant.
I finish up lift and walk with my teammates over to the Ratty (one of our main cafeterias) for grab-and-go breakfast. Then I head back to my room, shower, and get ready for my day. It is 9am and I have already accomplished a lot today. Feeling caffeinated and clean, I tackle my first few meetings for my internship and my Russian class. Languages at Brown are some of the best classes because they are very small, you get a lot of time speaking, and it fosters a great community. Most of the Army cadets take one or several languages - mainly Russian, Arabic, and Chinese. While these are valuable languages for the military, taking languages also gives us an opportunity to immerse ourselves in other cultures.
After Russian, I have a few hours before I leave for weekly ROTC class, so I grab lunch and head to the library to do some readings. I concentrate in International and Public Affairs, so most of my classes are seminar-style. Cadets at Brown have a large diversity of academic interests. One of the main reasons that I decided to pursue the Army path is because of the academic flexibility and the expectation that you will apply your academic degree to your study of leadership. Whether a cadet is studying medicine, conflict, language, religion, or economics, we are all connected by our common pursuit of leadership education.
Many Brown cadets hold leadership positions in different organizations around campus. A big myth about ROTC is that you do not have time to do anything else. This could not be further from the truth! Team Bruno cadets are student group leaders, athletes, have jobs and internships, are engaged politically, and have vibrant social lives outside of ROTC. ROTC actually enables you to do more because you are respected as a leader on campus and organizations desire those qualities.
I grab my car and pick up my fellow cadets to head over to Providence College for class. We have to get there early today to get our heights and weights measured. Since the Brown ROTC community is so close-knit, our short commutes are one of the best times to catch up with my ROTC friends.
After height and weight, I meet up with the other MSIIs (sophomores) from all the other universities and we walk over to our building. One of the best parts of ROTC is having friends from all the different campuses. It really allows me to broaden my social circle and engage with people who share the same goals as me outside of “the Brown bubble.” Class today is about the principles of joint operations. As sophomores, we are moving past the military basics and into more advanced topics. Classes are seminar-style and we are challenged to work together to tackle tough practical exercises. Next week, we will be starting our LLabs (leadership labs) for this spring semester. These are hands-on sessions where the MSIVs and IIIs lead the Is and IIs through field-training situations. For example, we learn things like emergency medical care, Army communication, and battle drills.
After ROTC class, I collect the cadets from Brown and we head back to campus. After grab-and-go dinner at the Ratty, it is time to start my homework for the night. I try to do about 3-4 hours of homework a day, spread throughout the day. With my schedule, it is very important for me to get at least 6 hours of sleep per night, so I try to maximize my time during the day to make this happen. ROTC requires you to have good time management skills. Brown really values student independence, so you are entirely responsible for yourself and what you do. I think that this is one of the most valuable challenges in ROTC and college in general. ROTC cadets have to make trade-offs during college. To be successful in the program, you have to put a lot of time in. Managing your schedule involves sacrifice. However, with proper forethought, you should have time for all of your academic commitments, ROTC things, activities, and a good social life.
I wrap up the day by stretching and reading a book for fun. With another 0500 wake-up tomorrow morning, it is important that I take care of my body and get good sleep.
Life as a cadet is never boring and has given me the best friends and experiences of my college career. As I close out the day, I am excited to tackle whatever will come the next morning, knowing that I am one step closer to my goal of becoming an Army Officer.