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.