Each month, Jagwire features a cadet who is enrolled in Augusta University’s ROTC program and a member of the Jaguar Army ROTC Battalion. For March, we spoke with Cadet Battalion Commander Mandy Naquin.
Where are you from and what high school did you attend?
I am originally from Houma, Louisiana. It’s “way down da bayou,” South of New Orleans. I attended South Terrebonne High School. Go Gators!
Why did you choose to attend Augusta University?
I feel like Augusta University chose me. I originally moved here to get my MBA and yoga certification, but ended up on another career path that eventually lead me directly to AU ROTC. Before joining ROTC, I met with three different recruiters and came very close to enlisting. ROTC offered me a path that allowed me to pursue what was once just a dream — serving my country and continuing my education — and made it my new reality.
How did you become interested in the ROTC/military?
The first encounter I have ever had with someone in uniform was immediately after a hurricane when I was a child. The National Guard was sent to our city and they were passing out food and offering help. I aspired to be like those people in uniform: I wanted to help, I wanted to contribute. So, years later, when the opportunity presented itself, I quit my job and applied for the Augusta University ROTC scholarship. Easily one of the best decisions I have made in life!
Why did you choose to pursue the degree that you’ve selected?
I chose to pursue a degree in psychology because the idea and urge to want to understand and help others has always stuck out to me, regardless of which career path I’ve found myself in. This degree will also allow me to eventually pursue an advanced education in clinical psychology, which is my long-term plan.
What are your long-term plans for the military?
So, I try not to think too far ahead, but once I hit two years in, I’ll be able to apply for the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences’ doctoral program that will allow me to become a clinical psychologist for the United States Army.
What is one of the biggest misconceptions of being in the ROTC?
That it’s an easy route. Maybe it could be for some people, but I have given a lot of myself to this program. It has taken hard work, failing at some things, late nights, really early mornings, constant self-assessment, constructive clashes with battle buddies and heavy rucksacks.
Use one word to describe cadet life.
What has been the hardest adjustment to preparing for the military?
Definitely jumping in without any prior military knowledge, especially jumping in as an MSIII (junior). It was overwhelming (I still feel like I learn something new with every interaction) at first, but I am thankful to have had supportive and brutally honest instructors.
What are you most excited about now that you are a part of Jaguar Nation and the Jaguar Battalion?
To learn what I can from this experience while I am here. I know I will miss it and that my time here is limited.
Use one word to sum up your experience as a Jaguar?