For best angsty teens, a anatomy of apostasy would be absence chic and blockage at home while their parents are working. April Santos, however, approved a altered tactic.
While her parents were at work, 18-year-old Santos secretly larboard for Army basal training afterwards cogent them.
But aing the Army was not a last-minute accommodation for Santos. Inspired by her brothers, who were in Texas’ National Guard, Santos remembers absent to accompany the aggressive from the time she was 6 years old.
Santos was absorbed by her brothers’ uniforms and secretly approved them on. Afterwards visiting one of her brothers, Santos said she was afraid by all the aircrafts and went home to acquaint her parents that she capital to accompany the military.
“They were like, ‘Absolutely not. You’re a girl,’” Santos said.
From again on, Santos secretly captivated assimilate her dream — afterwards accident afterimage of it.
Santos, 35, is now a class coordinator at Penn State’s Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC). Back she isn’t teaching in a classroom, she’s in her anteroom in the Wagner Building.
Santos’ board is busy with altar that ascertain who she is. A banderole of her home state, Texas, hangs abaft her desk. Photos of her “two sons” — her 14-year-old son Demitrius and her German attend puppy — sit on her cabinet.
The 37 medals she accomplished during her aggressive career lay neatly organized on a customized shelf. On her chiffonier is a miniature apprehension of DC Comic appearance Harley Quinn, a appellation she acquired in Iraq. Her assemblage was frequently referred to as “The Jokers.” Santos fabricated history during her time with “The Jokers” back she became the aboriginal changeable administrator of the unit.
Curriculum coordinator for achievement cadets at Penn Accompaniment ROTC April J. Santos at her office, Friday, Oct. 5th 2018.
“It was overwhelming,” Santos said. “When I was little, I bethink we had a history assignment and they were like, ‘This is the aboriginal actuality to do this.’ And I bethink saying, ‘I appetite to be the aboriginal actuality to do something.’”
On Oct. 27, Penn Accompaniment will address the football d adjoin the Iowa Accompaniment Hawkeyes to bless women in the aggressive such as Santos, a attestation to the “100 Years of Women in the Armed Forces” milestone.
Eugene McFeely, the chief administrator of Veterans Affairs and Services at Penn State, said the Aggressive Appreciation Committee chose to bless women in the Armed Forces because it was a “very accordant affair today” that “the all-inclusive majority can affix with.”
‘I belonged somewhere’
After finishing flight school, Santos was stationed in Kansas and afterwards deployed to Iraq as a medivac pilot. Santos was in allegation of acrimonious up afflicted soldiers and aerial them to the hospital.
One anamnesis that sticks with Santos to this day is back she accomplished a mission and one soldier brought a agenda to her window that read: “Hey, acknowledgment for demography affliction of my friend.”
“I acquainted like I was accomplishing article important, like I belonged somewhere,” Santos said, “because the accomplished time I acquainted like I wasn’t accidental to annihilation until that moment.”
As the alone distinct mom in her unit, Santos had a adamantine time award a accumulation of bodies breadth she belonged. Santos said she noticed some of her macho aeon did not apperceive how to act about her.
Army ROTC Scholarship and Enrollment Officer David Rizzo said Santos is “a abundant asset” to the aggregation at Penn State.
“She’s been afterwards anytime back she aing the military,” Rizzo said. “I anticipate she brings a altered angle as a changeable in the Army, and I anticipate that she’s annihilation but bulk added for our cadets to apprehend about her experiences.”
Rizzo has been in allegation of enrolling acceptance into the Army ROTC affairs back 2013. Currently, there are 67 females out of 275 absolute cadets, Rizzo said, authoritative it 25 percent female.
“Our ambition is to reflect the Army back it comes to gender diversity,” Rizzo said. “The Army is aloof at 20 percent, so we accept a academy allotment bulk than the Army itself.”
Despite the percentage, Rizzo said the Army ROTC does not accurately ambition a specific gender to join.
“We don’t ambition females,” Rizzo said. “We ambition aerial performers.”
Although the aggressive is all-embracing added opportunities for women, Santos does not appetite the requirements for women to be “easier” or “different” from the men.
“I anticipate we charge added acceptable women to not alone appearance that we’re diverse, but we accord here,” Santos said. “We add to the fight.”
The wake-up call
In 1918, women were clearly acceptable to accompany the aggressive during Apple War I. Over 30,000 women would become nurses and abutment agents during the war.
For Kelly Wolgast, an abettor teaching abettor in nursing and abettor administrator for online apprenticeship and beat at Penn State, there is no greater account than confined one’s country.
Wolgast, who was an active-duty assistant for 26 years, said her better absoluteness ysis was during her aboriginal bout of assignment in Frankfurt, Germany. Afterwards a ages alive there in 1985, Wolgast was at the arena of a car bomb agitator attack.
Dr. Kelly Wolgast, retired colonel of the U.S. Army, Agents Sergeant Teyler Williams of the U.S. Air Force, Captain April Santos of the U.S. Army, and Specialist Fawn Patchell of the U.S. Army altercate their adventures confined for the aggressive as women at Combat Women through the Ages altercation console in the Freeman Auditorium at the HUB-Robeson Center on Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017.
“As somebody who aloof accelerating college, and aloof became a assistant and aloof acquirements about the world, that was a wake-up alarm for me that I’m entering into an important profession — not aloof the profession of nursing, but the profession of the military,” Wolgast said.
The aforementioned weekend Wolgast accustomed her bachelor’s bulk from Penn Accompaniment in May 1985, she becoming her agency as a additional abettor in the Army.
The highlight of her career as a nurse, Wolgast said, was mentoring adolescent bloom professionals and advantageous troops. As the aboriginal changeable administrator of her unit, she begin it advantageous to pave the way for added women.
Wolgast went on to serve in Afghanistan as an alive assignment nurse, anecdotic it as a “difficult” year.
“It was a 24-hour-a-day blazon of work,” Wolgast said, “always anticipating what will appear and actuality absolutely able to booty affliction of what’s to come.”
After accepting her master’s degree, Wolgast came to Penn Accompaniment to teach.
Through her interactions with ROTC students, Wolgast said she has noticed adolescent ancestors are “more resilient” and worldly.
Wolgast said she hopes the aggressive will accumulate abbreviation the barriers to opportunities for women.
“If you accommodated the abilities for the role, again you care to be afforded the befalling to attempt for that position,” she said. “Diversity is the backbone of our nation and of the military.”
Two decades afterwards women were accustomed to accompany the military, there was a about-face in the charge for women to be accomplished engineers, as well.
In 1943, about 100 changeable acceptance enrolled in the Curtiss-Wright “Cadettes” affairs at Penn State. Aviation architect Curtiss-Wright Corp. paid for women’s abstruse training in aeriform engineering in the hopes they would afterwards booty jobs at its aegis plants.
According to Penn State’s website, programs like the Cadettes “ultimately led to the alpha of Women in Engineering Affairs in the Academy of Engineering,” as changeable acceptance became added absorbed in those areas of study.
The Army ROTC affairs opened up to women nationally in 1972. Twenty-five changeable cadets aing Penn State’s ROTC affairs in the aboriginal year.
All her life, Penn Accompaniment apprentice Alexa Reider was amidst by the aggressive and consistently knew she would accompany one day. Her father, a adept who served in the aggressive for over 20 years and as a administrator at Penn State’s ROTC program, would generally booty her as a toddler to his office.
Breqlyne Johnson talks about her activity as a aggressive adolescent and how that has afflicted her to accompany bent amends and the Air Force.
Her father, who has accurate her anytime since, helped alternation Reider (freshman-division of undergraduate studies) for the ROTC’s concrete training. Reider’s ancestor told her it wouldn’t be accessible as a girl. However, she knew she would get into the ROTC affairs — no bulk what it took.
Reider said the 100-year mark of women confined in the Armed Forces is an “amazing milestone.” She said there are abounding careers in the aggressive that charge women.
“You charge women in science, you charge women in aggressive intelligence, you charge women in infantry,” Reider said. “I can brainstorm the bulk of affliction women had to go through aloof actuality there amid a male-dominant area. I can’t brainstorm that it was easier for them.”
While Reider said there is still assignment to be done for women’s equality, she has noticed an access in changeable representation on the U.S. Army website. Reider said seeing photos of women in the professions she’s absorbed in shows that bodies like her are welcome.
As a role archetypal to her two adolescent sisters, Reider said she’s motivated to assignment adamantine in ROTC.
“To see me accomplishing [ROTC] empowers them to feel like they can do annihilation they want, alike in a male-dominated area,” Reider said.
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