Anchors Aweigh

Sophomore aspires to join the Navy


Provided by: Catherine Wrestler

Wrestler poses at the Grand Canyon. Wrestler says loves to travel and going outdoors; she believes that by being in the Navy she will be able to get both.

It’s 2014, and incoming freshman Catherine Wrestler looks through the lists of clubs and classes offered at the campus. She stops to scan the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) description. “Hmm, that sounds interesting,” she says as she shares the class details with her parents.

“Uh what? Military? No no, you can’t do that,” they respond.

Now a sophomore, Cadet Lieutenant Wrestler is second in command as the executive officer of JROTC and will be attending a leadership program at a joint reserve base in Fort Worth during June to further her career towards the Navy.

“My grandpa was in the Navy for a little bit; he served for eight years and he was drafted in the Navy for the Vietnam War,” Wrestler said. “I think it’s just a part of growing up in the South: everyone here is really proud of our veterans. I just grew up seeing these people idolized and it was a very patriotic and noble thing, and I realized that I want to do that. I want to be the person who makes such a big difference and I think that the military is going to give me that avenue.”

Out of the 120 JROTC members in the campus, Wrestler was one of the five cadets to have been able to join the summer leadership academy.

“[There], we eat on the base, we sleep in barracks and eat in the galley,” Wrestler said. “It’s really gross, but basically we are thrown into a semi-military style for a week of our training. It’s a really big deal because this is the training that we are going to need. As people in charge of the unit, we need to make sure we have the necessary training.”

During freshman year, Wrestler was assigned team captain. Since she was leading a group of cadets who were older than her, it was difficult for her to manage them; Commander Jeff Williams believes that’s one thing many cadets are challenged with.

“The hardest thing that people in her position have to do is maintain friendships with [their] peers while also telling them what to do,” Williams said. “That’s not an easy thing and she had some trouble with that when she first got here. She had a lot of responsibility really early. There’s not a student that I’ve had who did not have problems from that, [but] she’s going to be a junior next year and she has already overcome some of them.”

Wrestler said her father, president of the JROTC booster club, has had a big impact on her life.

“At first, I don’t think that my [dad] thought that I was serious about it, [that] I could actually do [JROTC],” Wrestler said. “But I think after last year he realized that, ‘yes, she can do it and truly wants to do this.’ So I got my parents involved and got them to be a part of our booster club. I think it’s funny because it’s a complete 180, he [goes from] ‘I don’t really think you should be involved in this’ to being charge in all of the parental stuff.”

Catherine Wrestler (left) with junior Kayla Dobbs (right) on their JROTC field trip to the Holocaust Museum.

Upperclassmen cadets like junior Kayla Dobbs believe Wrestler has grown a lot as an officer since her freshman year.

“[Compared to] when she was a freshman, she’s [now] able to [be in charge of] other people and has learned over the years on how to be a leader,” Dobbs said. “[In the future I can see her] as probably the head of some corporation out there.”

Now Wrestler feels she has finally earned her place as an officer and believes she has grown a lot through JROTC.

“When I was a freshman, I was too scared to talk to anybody,” Wrestler said. “[Through this program], I made a tremendous social leap to the fact that I’m not afraid of anything anymore. I’m not afraid to talk to people and I don’t care how people think about me to an extent.  It’s crazy, the person that I was a year ago. I think that’s a really hard lesson to learn, but I’m of reaching ahead of where I was a year ago. I’ve been given so many opportunities [through this program] that I could never have gotten anywhere else.”