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Four Years at the Mount

Junior Year

Bucket List

Julia Mulqueen

(May, 2011) It feels like just the other day I was racing around the neighborhood on my bicycle, but it still had training wheels on it. Sometimes I feel like I myself still have training wheels on. Every year that I move up in school, I am told that the next year my teachers and professors will no longer baby me. I am assured that it will be my most difficult year yet. Certainly, my senior year of college will be my most difficult year, but perhaps not simply because of schoolwork. I will have one more full year of peace and security before I will have to leave the comfort of both my home and the Mount behind. Soon I will be out of school and living completely on my own. What terrors await me! I will have to pay my own bills, balance my budget, and instead of going to classes, I will go to work. Fortunately, I know that I will have a job as a soldier in the Army when I graduate from college. With my graduation, I will be commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army. I will be sent to Officer Basic Course and then I will be launched into my career in the military.

This launch into the real working world will be bittersweet, however. My parents, although they will still be just a phone call away, will no longer be just a drive away. I will really and truly have to grow up. As I ponder this fact, I realize that the summer I am now entering will be the last one that I will spend while in school. That means that this summer needs to be spent well. Perhaps I should make a bucket list of sorts with several must-dos over the summer. The first two involve ROTC, of course.

The first thing on my bucket list is Leadership Development and Assessment Course or LDAC. This is a training and assessment course in Fort Lewis, Washington, which consists of tactical exercises, land navigation, and physically exhausting obstacle courses. It is a course that every cadet must attend before he or she graduates college and is commissioned. The course tests cadets mentally and is used as a way to determine the rankings of each cadet. Thus, how well I do at LDAC directly affects the path of my career. I am looking forward to the opportunity, as well as the chance to experience some more hands-on training.

The next thing on my bucket list, which is also ROTC related, is Cadet Troop Leadership Training or CTLT. This is a program in which cadets are sent to a unit to shadow a platoon leader. It helps selected cadets experience some time in an active duty Army unit so that they can learn how things work. I myself was awarded the opportunity to attend CTLT in Germany. When I found out, I was absolutely overjoyed. I cannot wait for the chance to put my German major to some practical use and reward my palate with some good, wholesome German cuisine. The experience will be rewarding I am sure, and I look forward to the opportunity to visit Europe for the third summer in a row.

The third, but perhaps most important, thing on my bucket list is spending time with my family. As I said, I am slowly realizing that it will be much more difficult to see my family as often as I would like in the upcoming years. I might soon be thousands of miles away from them, so it is imperative that I spend as much time with them this summer as I can.

The person in my family whose company I am most looking forward to is my oldest brother. He has been away from home for the past few years serving in the military. In fact, we have not been able to celebrate a holiday with him since his college days years ago. It will be so nice to finally have the chance to spend some quality time with him. Hopefully the two of us will not bicker like we used to!

The final thing on my summer bucket list is most definitely reading. It may sound like a odd thing for me to look forward to, especially because I already read so much during the school year. The reading in which I will engage during the summer, however, will be mostly impractical. Will I read a few cheesy romance novels? Most certainly. Reading is such a calming activity for me though, and I miss the opportunity to read whatever fiction I wish during the school year. Thus, summer will be a nice time for me to soak up some vitamin D and flip through the pages of the works of my favorite authors.

So it seems my bucket list is complete. The only thing I would add to it if I could would be a little more time to live as a college student. Everyone has always told me that their years in college were the best of their lives. I thought is was mostly nostalgia speaking, but it turns out, they were all right. I cannot think of any other way that I would have wanted to spend these last three years of my life. So while I am excited to move into my career as a soldier, I know that my last year at the Mount will be something that I will always cherish.

Read other articles by Julia Mulqueen