Midway through her senior year at Emmanuel, biology major Juliann Gavin '16 still asks herself, "How did I get here?" - but her wonder is all positive. With a few serendipitous decisions and a lot of hard work, "here" marks Gavin's journey to becoming a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army who will also enter medical school next year.
"I feel like I worked my whole life to get to this point, so the fact that it's finally here is too good to be true," Gavin said.
Gavin transferred to Emmanuel her sophomore year from a school in Florida because she always wanted to attend a small, Catholic college in historic Boston. When she got here, she decided to pursue the Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC), a program Gavin always wondered if she could do.
She reached out to the Colleges of the Fenway's (COF) ROTC program not only for the challenge, but for the scholarship opportunities as well. She initially joined for a three-month trial period but fell in love with the training. After the three months, Gavin was offered a three-year contracting scholarship, and she is now set to commission as a second lieutenant in May 2016. Her contract is part of an eight-year commitment; the remaining years are called Inactive Ready Reserve, meaning that if there is a large conflict, the government can call on inactive service members to serve.
Currently, Gavin is a cadet command sergeant major; she participates in early-morning physical training (PT) three days a week and often trains with Boston College's ROTC program because the two groups are a part of the same battalion. Once a week, Gavin takes a military lab in which she does everything from learning how to engage in terrorist-fighting missions to taking cultural awareness, ethics and leadership classes. Gavin is ranked number one is her ROTC class.
Gavin believes her ROTC work has truly readied her for medical school.
"I think ROTC has prepared me. It's given me the opportunity to think under pressure, and it's also taught me how important communication is. I've learned how to approach superiors with respect and how to respect people from other traditions and other cultures," she said.
So far, Gavin has been accepted into three medical schools in North Carolina, West Virginia and Missouri and will decide in the next few months where she'd like to attend. She applied for and recieved educational delay, which is a request to the Army to allow her to attend medical school before her service begins. Upon graduation from medical school, Gavin will have the opportunity to serve at one of the Army hospitals across the world.
To help with school costs, Gavin is applying for the Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP), which would pay her entire medical school tuition, along with a monthly student stipend with the stipulation that she will serve an additional four years.
For as long as she can remember, Gavin has wanted to be in the medical field. Right now, she is leaning towards being a primary care physician, but knows her medical school training may change her mind on her specialty.
"I like the fact that in this profession you're a lifelong learner, and that you're constantly challenging yourself and always seeking out more opportunities to better yourself and better others," she said. "I also like the fact that you can be a mentor to some people. People look to physicians as their guide or mentor in life. I want to have that greater influence on people - being that positive, helping hand."
If all goes according to plan, Gavin will be promoted to a Captain after graduting from medical school. She hopes to be placed at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany, which is the largest American hospital outside of the United States. For Gavin, she'd love to work in Germany and be immersed in a culture that's closer to the American soldiers in combat.
Gavin is grateful that she moved from Florida and believes her life would not have been the same if she hadn't. She's excited to "be a freshman again" in medical school and enter a whole new world of experiences.
Her advice to fellow students who are curious about an internship or career choice: "Perseverance is a really valuable tool, because you can be discouraged really easily with all your activities and your classes. Don't be discouraged, always seek help from professors or family members, and keep a goal in mind so you have something to reach for," Gavin said.