You’d never know that students Caroline Hernandez Herman and Quinn O’Hagan wake up before 6:00 a.m.— sometimes as early as 3:00 a.m.—for physical training. They work campus jobs, earn high GPAs, and maintain friendships, but that’s not all—they’re also in the US Army Reserves Officer Training Corps (ROTC), a military training program for college students.
With only 50 ROTC cadets on American University’s campus, it may be hard to spot one. There’s a good reason for that. Between classes, physical training, jobs, and clubs, these students have a lot on their agendas. “We don’t exist socially until Friday afternoons,” says O’Hagan.
Despite their busy schedules, Herman and O’Hagan started working as peer tutors at Kogod’s Center for Business Communications this fall, allowing them to exercise the leadership and team-building skills they’re developing in the ROTC.
“Leadership, teamwork, self-awareness, and a strong work ethic are all aspects of the customer service we want our peer consultants to deliver,” says Caron Martinez, director of the Kogod Center for Business Communications. “The center values reinforce O’Hagan and Herman’s development in the ROTC. It’s a beautiful thing!”
“I’m able to exercise my leadership skills from the ROTC and refine them,” says O’Hagan. “One of the big things about leadership is that you’re also a teacher.”
“And you’re a friend too,” adds Herman.
Herman says that when one of the students she tutors seems nervous or is having a bad day, she reminds them of the progress they’re making. She also continues to be a friendly face on campus—something that every student who visits the center appreciates.
How do Herman and O’Hagan have time for their own studies between classes, training, and a campus job?
“Time is important when you spend a lot of it going to bed early, waking up early, and committing to extra activities,” says O’Hagan, who just added Color Guard duties to his already packed schedule. “I try to maximize my study time by scheduling classes close together.”
Although they still have a few years ahead of them before graduation, Herman and O’Hagan are actively preparing for their futures beyond the ROTC. Herman hopes to work with the National Guard. Since she wouldn’t be on active duty, she will also be able to keep a full-time civilian job. “I’m able to differentiate my line of priorities, and that, in return, has allowed me to work more efficiently in the other aspects of my career,” says Herman, who is a business administration major specializing in marketing. O’Hagan is hoping to switch his major to finance or accounting and envisions being on active duty.
Both O’Hagan and Herman credit the ROTC with their ability to tackle all the new experiences and opportunities life at AU brings. “The ROTC helps me do things that are uncomfortable,” says O’Hagan.
“I always think if I can handle PT and maneuvers, I can handle anything,” adds Herman.
And they cite their work with fellow students at the Center for Business Communications as an essential factor in their leadership development. “Having to relate and engage with others in a way that is both constructive and supportive is incredibly valuable,” says O’Hagan.
As for students who are unsure about working a campus job, joining the ROTC, or taking on new responsibilities, Herman says, “Just try it. You lose absolutely nothing, but you can gain so much.”