Today@Sam Article

Bearkat Battalion Commissions An All-Female Class, Second Time In School History

Jan. 26, 2024
SHSU Media Contact: Emilee White

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For the second time in school history, the ROTC program at Sam Houston State University has commissioned an all-female class of officers. This momentous event comes almost 50 years after the university commissioned its first female officer in 1977. 

“This wasn’t even initially planned for it to just be females,” said Second Lieutenant Bethany Mitchell, one of the four newly sworn-in officers. “There were supposed to be guys with us, but things changed at the last minute and then it was just all us girls. I think it’s awesome to be a part of something like that, especially when it wasn’t my plan. ROTC just happened and now I’m a second lieutenant, so it’s a really big deal.” 

When Mitchell first arrived at SHSU, she thought she was going to be a nurse, but that path never came to fruition. Struggling to find herself and her community, Mitchell decided to take a semester off school where she enlisted in the military and remained in the Army Reserves as a human resources specialist. It was when Mitchell came back to school that she opened herself to learning more about ROTC and instantly knew that was where she needed to be. 

The recent commissioning of Mitchell, along with Melissa Barerra, Elaine Bishop and Destiny Mendez, is another progressive step for women in the military, as well as the school’s ROTC program. Women have long been serving in the United States military, dating back to the World War I, although the positions available to women were all non-combative roles. It wasn’t until 2013 that women could hold such positions.  

Mitchell had no idea who she was or what she was going to do when she went to college, but from the moment she enlisted in the army, she knew what she wanted to do. Now as a quarter master officer, Mitchell plans to get all she can out of this experience before eventually going back to school to become a dentist. 

“I always loved going to the dentist as a kid,” Mitchell said. “I grew up in a smaller town and I never saw any female or minority dentists. I didn’t see a female dentist until I was an adult. Dentistry was something I was always interested in doing, I just didn’t understand the path forward. My senior year, medical recruiters from the Army came to talk to us about the health profession scholarship program offered to soldiers. That was confirmation that I can do it, and I will do it.” 

Upon commissioning, Mitchell also received her degree in Health Care Administration. As she and her fellow officers continue to pursue their goals post-college, Mitchell urges anyone who is interested in or thinking about joining the ROTC program to make the move. In addition to the benefits of school, Mitchell points out that the military can help you achieve anything you want to be in life – you just have to take the first step. 

“You make some of the best friends of your life,” Mitchell said. “It comes with a lot of responsibility, but it comes with a lot of rewards as well.” 

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