ArmyEdSpace Spotlight

Kaitlynn Buys-McFarland, Purdue University Army ROTC

Kaitlynn Buys-McFarland
West Lafayette, Indiana
Cadet, Purdue University Army ROTC

Kaitlynn currently studies Pre-Veterinary Medicine at Purdue University. She is a contracted Cadet on a four-year scholarship with the Purdue University Army ROTC.

How did you become involved with the Army, and what are your aspirations as an Army officer?
Throughout high school, I attended the National FFA Convention as an FFA member, competing and visiting the career expo. In the fall of my sophomore year at the 2012 National FFA Convention, I met Captain French, an Army veterinarian. We talked for a while, and I was offered the opportunity to job shadow Captain French and his colleagues at Fort Campbell for a few days. During this time, I realized that I wanted to become an Army veterinarian, and ever since then, that has been my career path. The following year at the 2013 National FFA Convention, I became aware of the ROTC scholarships that the Army offers each year, and applied. I was offered a four-year national scholarship and now currently attend Purdue University on that ROTC scholarship.

What were you surprised to learn about the Army through your involvement?
Originally, I was surprised to learn that the Army has its own veterinarians, but I am very thankful for the Army booth at the National FFA Convention introducing me to the Army’s Veterinary Corps.

How did your involvement in the FFA help prepare you for your service in the Army?
The National FFA Organization and Army ROTC have a lot in common. Both strive to build a foundation of leadership in all members, as well as strong communication, critical thinking, team work and problem solving skills. I feel that being involved in various FFA activities prepared me for the experiences in ROTC by giving me experiences in leadership and teamwork positions unavailable to my peers. As an officer in FFA, I had to not only help lead my chapter for a year, but also had to work well with the rest of the officer team, develop strong communication skills and solve multiple problems on a large scale. This helped me grow and be able to use those skills in ROTC. Also, competing in the Job Interview CDE with FFA helped prepare me for my scholarship interview, which was a very important factor in being awarded my scholarship. Both FFA and Army ROTC prepare young adults to be professional, productive leaders in society and in all of their future endeavors.

Who were your role models during the time you participated in FFA, and what did they teach you?
FFA provided me with two major role models, and both greatly contributed to my success. My Chapter Advisor, Amanda Briggs, was perhaps my biggest FFA role model. Not only did Mrs. Briggs help guide and advise me and my officer team, but she was always offering me new opportunities to grow, was open to me trying and initiating new things, and probably most importantly, always held me accountable for things I did, planned to do, or said I would do. This taught me to be more “take charge” and to evaluate myself and my actions more in order to better solve problems in the future. One of my other big role models was a peer, my best friend and fellow FFA member, Makenzie Deputy. Makenzie was responsible for opening my eyes to all that FFA has to offer and was the main reason I joined the organization. Once I became a member, Makenzie pushed me to do better and to have an open mind by pushing me out of my comfort zone and into new opportunities. The amount of dedication and passion she had for the organization rubbed off on me and urged me to share my passions with others.

What advice do you have for students considering their career path?
1. Keep an open mind! Although I grew up as a “military brat,” I didn’t have any real intentions of joining the military. That is, until I became aware of the opportunities the Army has to offer. It’s not all just “grunt work.” There are job opportunities for nearly every area of interest in the Army. Just keep an open mind and be sure to explore all your options.

2. Make yourself happy. Don’t worry about what other people expect you to be; worry about what you want to make of yourself. Because my dad was a Marine, I was expected by nearly all of my peers to join the Marines. But even though he was slightly biased, my dad supported my decision to join the Army because he saw that the Army offered me exactly what I wanted in life. Also, don’t worry about money; worry about happiness. Money may be nice, but it means nothing if you are miserable in what you do.

Why do you feel military service should be considered a viable post-secondary option?
The military has so much to offer! Enlisted or officer, the military provides experiences unparalleled by anything else that the private sector has to offer. Where else can you travel the world, be a leader and gain college credits? For high school students looking at their post-secondary options, ROTC serves as a great way to pay for your college education, gain experience and get paid while in college, and have a guaranteed job as a U.S. military officer in the career of your choice. While most graduates have to wonder what they will do with their degree, cadets have a job with great benefits and opportunities to grow lined up right after graduation!

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