While some Reserve Officers’ Training Corps Cadets are the first in their family to join the military, others make it a family affair like 4th Regiment Cadet Abril Solis, a political science major from California State University-Northridge. While Solis is undergoing the Army’s largest intra-continental training exercise at the Leader Development and Assessment Course, her sister Alondra Solis is preparing for her deployment to Afghanistan as a warehouse supplier.
“Our mom kind of pushed us to join the military specifically because we were raised in a very low-income family,” said Solis. “We lived paycheck to paycheck. Once I joined, I realized it was a lot more than just to pay for school, it’s for your country.”
The Oakland, Calif. native joined the U.S. Army National Guard on June 1, 2009 immediately following her high school graduation. During her time in the Guard, Solis worked as a unit supply specialist where she was responsible for inventory and issuing out equipment to soldiers.
“There were two Cadets there training at boot camp just for the experience,” said Solis. “They gave me insight into what it truly meant to be in the ROTC program.”
Due to their powerful influence, Solis returned to campus and began a career in ROTC her sophomore year of college. Solis felt confident in her skills coming into LDAC and was excited about the opportunity to put all of her past training and experience into practice.
“I really hope that this program can give us the experience that we’ve all been training for,” said Solis. “We’ve been working really hard. ROTC is not an easy program; it asks a lot from you to become an officer. I really hope I can take away the lessons Cadre teach us and that I have a feel for what it’s like to be an officer when I command troops. It’s a huge responsibility.”
Although Solis is confident that she will walk away from LDAC with invaluable experience under her belt, she fears that finding cohesion between the platoons and squads will be a challenge.
“We all come from different schools,” said Solis. “We’re all taught the same things but taught differently.”
Despite their vast backgrounds and experience, the other Cadets provide motivation and joy this summer. Solis has enjoyed meeting new people at LDAC and learning where they come from as well as hearing about their backgrounds. She says the other Cadets are great motivation to get out of bed every morning, no matter how exhausted she may be.
“These aren’t just regular people out here,” said Solis. “They’re like your family.”
Story by Allie Pasdera.