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Dream fulfilled in the R.O.T.C.

Photo Credit Needed

Susan Padilla, a 19-year-old public health education major, became part of R.O.T.C. due to their strong leadership skills and discipline. Photo Credit by Zara Aleksanyan

At age 5, Susan’s mother asked her what she wanted to be; Susan remembers answering “a doctor.” That dream has not gone away, but it has changed. She has decided to be a nurse instead.

As a child she remembers periodically receiving migraines, and those migraines are what drove her to the dream of becoming a nurse. Now that she has joined the military, she will receive the opportunity of fulfilling that dream.

Susan Padilla, a 19-year-old public health education major, is one of about 45 female students who are in the Reserve Officers Training Corps (R.O.T.C.) at CSUN. This semester she signed her contract to finish the R.O.T.C. program at CSUN and once she is done, she will be an officer in the U.S. Army reserve.

Joining the R.O.T.C. program was an idea Susan had for some time. In high school, she was part of the Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (J.R.O.T.C.) program at James Monroe High School for two years.

“The J.R.O.T.C. program attracted me because they teach you leadership skills and discipline,” Susan said.

It took her three years to finally decide R.O.T.C. was what she wanted once she was at CSUN. The decision was not easily made and it affected her parents the most.
“I first contracted to the program without (my parents) knowing,” she said.

“It was hard for them, but since my older brother was already in the military, they took it in a bit easier.”

Susana Padilla, Susan’s mother, said it was difficult for her to grasp her daughter’s decision to enlist in the Army Reserve. “It hit me hard” she said. Susana was upset at her daughter’s decision because it caught her off guard.

“My mother eventually spoke to Sid Mendoza (First Lieutenant, U.S. Army Scholarship and Enrollment Officer), who explained to her that it will not affect my school,” Susan said.

This conversation soothed Susan’s mother and made her support her daughter.

“What she is doing is good, the risks are everywhere” Susana said.

As for Susan’s brother, the decision was one he loved. Jerry Padilla, Susan’s 22-year-old brother has just finished his four-year service with the Marines. For him, his sister joining the military only made him proud.

“Her joining (the Army Reserve) will teach her leadership, something that is very important,” Jerry said.

“Leadership is everything and it is everywhere.”

Susan does not regret her decision. She said she loves being part of a program like R.O.T.C. because it teaches her the military skills she will need, and makes her feel good about herself and what she is accomplishing.

“At first, I was doubting my decision, but now I feel really good about myself physically,” Susan said.

Standing out and learning about protecting others is what attracted Susan into the military. It gives her the opportunity to make a difference, she said.

Sid Mendoza has worked with Susan and has witnessed her eagerness to get involved and the opportunities she has taken.

“Susan was the only female from CSUN to participate in the Ranger Challenge, and that says a lot about her,” Mendoza said.

Having three brothers and a sister, Susan wants to show she can also be a role model to her younger siblings just like her brother Jerry is a role model to her. Joining R.O.T.C. and enlisting in the U.S. Army Reserves has given her the opportunity to reach that leadership role she wants, and has also given her the ability to stand out as a civilian, she said.

Once Susan finishes school in two years, she wants to become a registered nurse and use those skills as a nurse in the U.S. Army.

“As a child, I wanted to be a nurse and never had in mind to be in the Army, until now,” Susan said.


  1. Steve Mar 4, 2010

    Mike, I read the article link that you posted and need to correct some of the misguided information on the link.
    The first bullet says that a Recruiter can promise someone will not go to Iraq and Afghanistan.
    TRUTH: Members of the Armed Services follow the orders of the President of the United States. This is why we see we call it “Selfless Service”. NO one should volunteer if they are not ready to give selfless service.
    The second bullet says the period you enlist for.
    TRUTH: Members of the Armed Services sign a contract and in the contract is has “ACTIVE” and “INACTIVE”. Inactive means that you go back to being a citizen, if the President of the United States says you are needed, then this is where “Selfless Service” comes from the individual.
    The third bullet says you cannot get out of the Delayed Entry Program
    TRUTH: Members of the Armed Services in Delayed Entry Program (DEP) sign this contract so that they can begin taking time off their “Inactive” time. These individuals are volunteering in advance because at the time they may not be able to go to Basic Training. Again, they are volunteering to give “Selfless Service”
    The fourth bullet says you can get out at anytime.
    TRUTH: Members of the Armed Services are bound to a contract, like any other contract. If you purchase a car and cannot pay, the car company does not say, “Go ahead and keep the car”. They will state that it is a “breach of contract” and will take reprimanding action. The Armed Services do the same thing when someone wants to breach the contract. The purpose of a contract is to have everything in writing so that there are no misunderstandings.
    The fifth bullet says you get money for school.
    TRUTH: Members of the Armed Services do get money to go to school. Service members need to contribute 100 dollars per month for the first year only. In exchange, services members will get money for school that is not available to civilians. The numbers are used in the article are “WRONG AND MISGUIDED”, here is a link to the GI Bill website so that you can see for yourself http://www.gibill.va.gov/GI_Bill_Info/CH33/Post-911.htm. There are different GI Bills depending on what kind of service you give. The responsibility of each Service Member is to get the information that will best service them.
    Bullet points six through twelve.
    TRUTH: There is “NO ANNOTATION” to qualify statement.
    As American we need to support your young men and women who have volunteer to put their lives in danger when their country call upon them.

  2. mike Dec 9, 2009

    75% of Blacks and 67% of Latinos report experiencing racial prejudice in the service.

    1/3 of women in the military REPORT being raped; many go unreported.

    as a latina woman, what do you think the future holds in terms of prejudice?


    i think it’s really sad this article was written. at a time when there’s so much controversy over military recruiters preying on latino students; this amounts to militarist propaganda.

    in a time of endless wars sending 30,000 more troops to afghanistan thousands americans dead in iraq and afghanistan; to glorify the army as if it’s a positive career choice?

    shouldnt you be able to have an education without risking dying?

    what’s honorable about low income people of color going to kill other poor people of color. stop and THINK about it

    1. Jose Dec 22, 2009

      Mike, i do not think developing young men and woman into future leaders is a bad thing. Where do you get your facts?? First of all, no one is forcing these cadets to join, they are doing it with their own free will. Tell me mike, where else can someone obtain valuable leadership skills like the ones that are offered in the military. Mike, maybe its time that latinos put in their part in serving their county. I’ve been a soldier for five years and i have enjoyed every minute of it. I have never been treated differently for being Latino and neither has any of my Hispanic friends in the military. Mike, maybe you are jealous that you do not have what it takes to become a leader!!! Last time i checked, officers who have served in the military are highly respected and have vaulable managerial skills that will benefit them in their civilian careers. Mike maybe you should stop and think about it? As John F. Kennedy once said “ask not what your country can do for you;ask what you can do for your country”.

    2. Sarah May 6, 2010

      Those statistics are equal to minorities not in the service. I have also experienced racisim and I am white. 1/3 women are raped in their lifetime, but only 10% of those women who were raped go forth and report it.

      People all colors and sexes are in the military. I’m sorry someone offended you in thinking the U.S. military is racist or racically elitist. Raicism and “racial privllige/superiority is the OPPOSITE of what a U.S. stands for.

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