Cadets share ROTC experiences that made them stronger women

(From left) Cadets Danielle DeCristofaro, Alexus Kellow, Keirston Spiewak, Alex Warner and Kayla Chmiel pose for a photo. 

Jill Golden

Female cadets in Kent State’s Army ROTC said they feel the program provides equal opportunities that help motivate and empower them to achieve their goals.

“The United States Army is a place of equality and equal opportunity,” said Cadet Danielle DeCristofaro, a junior history major.

The program has the same expectations and guidelines for both men and women, said Cadet Alex Warner, a senior exercise science major.

“We wear the same gear, qualify the same with weapons, ruck the same distance and next year will have the same PT (physical fitness test) standards,” Warner said.

Any problems the cadets have faced throughout the program have been on achieving personal goals, said Cadet Keirston Spiewak, a sophomore psychology major, who sometimes struggles with pushups and running exercises.

“All it takes is hard work and self-motivation,” Spiewak said.

Some cadets said they felt they would be treated differently when they entered the program because they are female. After beginning the program, though, they found it to not be the case.

“I was worried about respect and being treated the same, but to most people I have come across, I have been able to prove I am just as capable as any other soldier or cadet,” Warner said.

Warner said she got through the challenges and feelings of being at a disadvantage as a female cadet by facing them head-on and proving she was capable of the physical and mental obstacles in the program.

“To most people, you simply have to show you have earned your place,” Warner said.

The Army ROTC program teaches college students leadership and military skills in order to prepare them to be Army officers.

“Being a woman does not change any capabilities of becoming a great officer,” Spiewak said.

The female cadets believe that success in the program is not based on gender, but on how cadets apply the skills and tools they have learned throughout the program.

“The Army will always give you the tools you need to succeed,” DeCristofaro said. “It is just up to you to make it happen. Organizations are just looking for people who can effectively do their job and effectively lead others to do the same. As long as you can do that and consistently meet the standards given to you, you will be successful.”

If a cadet, man or woman, has the knowledge to help themselves or others, he or she should use it, Warner said. The cadets encourage all young women to join the ROTC program because it has helped push themselves to achieve goals they are proud of.

“To any young ladies who are thinking of joining the program, you won’t regret it,” Warner said. “It’s the most empowering thing I have ever done.”

Jill Golden covers non-traditional, ROTC and veterans. Contact her at [email protected].