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It’s not goodbye, it’s see you later

Posted by Rilee Newell - July 14, 2017 - Academics, Featured, Military Science, Rilee N., Students


This is it. College is over. I still can’t wrap my mind around it. It’s been almost two months since I’ve graduated and commissioned and I have so much to catch you up on.

First, commissioning was amazing. It was such a bittersweet moment. My entire family was able to make the drive from Green Bay to Stevens Point to see me become an Army officer.

I chose Second Lieutenant Mary Workman, who graduated from the UW-Stevens Point ROTC program last year, to swear me in. She and I joined ROTC at the same time; she was a year ahead of me so she was thrown into the mix quicker than I was. She adapted to and overcame every single obstacle she was given. She has been my role model and mentor since the day I joined ROTC. She was in the top 10% of all cadets in the NATION. On top of that, she is the nicest person I know. It was a no-brainer when it came to deciding who would swear me in.

The next part of the ceremony was “pinning the bars.” This is where someone of your choosing comes up on stage and officially puts the second lieutenant rank on your uniform; I chose my mom, dad and brother to do this for me.

Finally, and perhaps the most special part of the commissioning ceremony for me, is the first salute. It’s tradition that an enlisted member of the military give you your first salute as an officer, in turn, the officer gives the enlisted member a silver dollar as a thanks. I chose my grandpa to be my first salute. He is a retired Marine and a huge influence in my life. It was such a special moment that I will never forget.

You can watch the entire commissioning ceremony here:

The next day I became a UWSP alumna. Can you believe it?! The graduation ceremony was so special. Those who commissioned were recognized in the beginning of the ceremony, which was a total surprise! I had no idea that was a part of the ceremony, it was a very nice touch. After a few speeches, it was time to graduate. The whole process actually went really quick. They called my name, I walked across the stage (I didn’t even trip), got my diploma (not really, though, I just got the diploma cover. The actual diploma gets mailed out later.). And that was it. I graduated.

Four years of literal blood, sweat and tears has certainly paid off. I cannot believe how quick the time has gone. It feels like just yesterday I was moving into the dorms and attending the first PRT session of the year. It truly is amazing.

So, what’s next for me? I got hired to work full-time for the National Guard for the summer as a temporary officer recruiter. I leave for Basic Officer Leadership Course in October where I will learn how to be the best ordnance officer I can be. After that, I’ll be moving back to Green Bay with my parents (research shows that the more time you spend with your mom, the longer she’ll live, so I’m moving back in for her benefit, really … ) and attending graduate school. Good news! I think I’ve decided what I want to do with my life: I want to be a high school guidance counselor. I’ve always had a passion for helping people through their problems and encouraging people to go down the path that is best suited for them. Plus, I love planning schedules, so this seems like the perfect job for me. So, the plan is to attend UW-Green Bay for social work and go from there. Wish me luck.

Also, just for fun, here’s a picture of me at commissioning from my freshman year (left) and my senior year (right). Have I changed?!

So, Pointers, the time has come. This is my last blog. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading them as much as I have enjoyed writing them. I hope you learned a little something about ROTC and what college is like as a cadet. I want to say “thank you” to EVERYONE who has helped me get to where I am today, including you, reader.

It’s not goodbye, it’s see you later. Pointers Lead The Way!
Second Lieutenant Rilee Newell

Rilee Newell ’17 is a cadet in the UW-Stevens Point ROTC program. She is majoring in sociology with an emphasis in deviance and social control with minors in military science and peace studies.



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