8 Tips For The Women Who Choose VMI

8 Tips For The Women Who Choose VMI

Set Yourself Apart
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1. Train Hard

As a female entering into an almost entirely male environment, the pace of everything is going to be more difficult than what you’re accustomed to. The runs will be fast, they will make you get on your face and do as many pushups as the male next to you, and you will be put in front of the pull-up bar every day and be expected to get your chin over it. Prepare yourself for the physical tasks required as best you can, and mentally prepare yourself for failure. You will fail multiple times, and you will be mocked for it. Take it as motivation to do better and train harder, and drive on.

2. Carry Your Own Weight

During exercises where team effort is essential, your male counterparts will sometimes be asked to carry your weight (your assault pack, a 50lb water canteen, a log, etc.) in order to make it easier for you to simply keep up. Carry your own weight. It doesn’t matter how tired you are, refusing to give up will make you stronger. You will feel like you’re about to pass out. You will throw up. There will be tears as you struggle. Keep doing it. The more often you are able to prove that you are willing to carry your own weight, the more respect you will earn from your brother rats, and the more you will find that you are actually capable. You will discover that when your body says that you are done and you can go no further, your mind will be able to ignore the pain and press on.

3. You’re Supposed To Be Ugly

Everybody is unattractive in the Ratline. You are intentionally reduced to your lowest state. Everything is taken from you. You will have nothing that makes you different from anybody else. Your hair is cut, you’re not allowed to wear makeup; even to cover up a bad breakout (which will happen with all the stress and sweat), and you’re forced to walk through barracks at an exaggerated form of attention, which just looks ridiculous and ugly. Believe it or not, it’s actually a bonding experience, and you’ll be forced to become comfortable in public without a little bit of makeup on. If you’re overly concerned about your short hair and not having your makeup for six months, perhaps you should consider another school.

4. Reputation Is Everything

When you cram a mere 1600 people into small living spaces such as barracks with nothing to do besides school and military duties, people will do anything to entertain themselves. This often means talking about what other people are up to. The smallest actions are taken note of, and everyone hears about everything. Secrets do not exist at VMI. Everybody knows who almost everybody is; especially if they have a strong reputation attached. Whether that reputation is good or bad is completely up to you. Do you flirt a lot within the corps? Do you rat people out? Do you avoid taking responsibility for your mistakes? I will make this as simple as possible: Don’t do anything stupid. Do not get romantically involved with anybody until you are finished with your freshman year. Do not try to get out of mandatory ratline events. Help your brother rats out. Sacrifice yourself and your time to save them from the wrath of your Cadre. Be a part of the suffering and embrace it.

5. Be Professional

If you decide to date after your freshman year, be professional. Do not flirt in public. Do not do anything intimate on post. While dating is permitted within the corps, there are many who do not believe it should be allowed. Conduct your dating relationship in a way that will have a positive impact on dating within the corps. Do not let your dating relationship get you into trouble. Being unprofessional is the quickest way to have much bigger problems with much bigger people.

6. Don't Listen To The Negativity

Most everybody at VMI is perfectly fine with females being a part of the corps. However, there is a very small (but very loud) minority who do not. They will say things and you will hear things that make you feel unwelcome, low, and unfeminine; no matter how well you perform your duties or how well you can keep up. They will complain about your physical fitness, your faults, and the way you look in your uniform. Ignore it. You came to a military school to set yourself apart from other women. You chose to wear a uniform that does not accentuate all your curves or show some skin. You chose to wear your hair up instead of down in curls. Keep in mind that you chose this life. Nobody is making you stay. Whatever motivated you to come to VMI in the first place, remember what it was. Also, remember that you are not here to please everyone.

7. Don't Settle For Less Than Your Full Potential

Here’s one thing that I learned early on that allowed me to keep up, earn respect, and continue to better myself: don’t settle for the minimum standards. Don’t tell yourself that all you need to do is meet the minimum requirements on the female physical training scale. Exercise every day, focusing on areas that need the most improvement, and aim to max the female scale. Once you do that, don’t settle for that either. Move up onto the men’s scale. The more you motivate yourself to do better, the easier physical training will become and the more confident you will be in your ability to perform physical tasks without failure. As your brother rats see the effort you put into your physical fitness and your desire to not let them down, the more trust and confidence they’ll put into you. Now, nobody is good at everything. There will always be an area or two that you will always struggle with, and that’s okay. That’s why most things are a team effort at VMI; some people are better at some things than others. Simply maintain your physical fitness (especially after the ratline when nobody is forcing you to train), and work hard to improve your weaknesses.

8. Enjoy Your Time At VMI

Being at VMI is a love/hate relationship. While you’re at VMI, you’ll be wishing more than anything to be away from it, and when you’re away, you’ll be wishing you were with your brother rats. The fact of the matter is, once your cadetship is over and done with, real life starts, and although VMI prepares you better than most for hard work and sacrifice, you’ll be wishing that you didn’t rush through everything. It’s a once in a lifetime experience, and it’s anything but ordinary. Build strong friendships, enjoy the challenges VMI throws at you, and take pride in being a VMI Cadet.

Cover Image Credit: Jim West Photography

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I Blame My Dad For My High Expectations

Dad, it's all your fault.
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I always tell my dad that no matter who I date, he's always my number one guy. Sometimes I say it as more of a routine thing. However, the meaning behind it is all too real. For as long as I can remember my dad has been my one true love, and it's going to be hard to find someone who can top him.

My dad loves me when I am difficult. He knows how to keep the perfect distance on the days when I'm in a mood, how to hold me on the days that are tough, and how to stand by me on the days that are good.

He listens to me rant for hours over people, my days at school, or the episode of 'Grey's Anatomy' I watched that night and never once loses interest.

He picks on me about my hair, outfit, shoes, and everything else after spending hours to get ready only to end by telling me, “You look good." And I know he means it.

He holds the door for me, carries my bags for me, and always buys my food. He goes out of his way to make me smile when he sees that I'm upset. He calls me randomly during the day to see how I'm doing and how my day is going and drops everything to answer the phone when I call.

When it comes to other people, my dad has a heart of gold. He will do anything for anyone, even his worst enemy. He will smile at strangers and compliment people he barely knows. He will strike up a conversation with anyone, even if it means going way out of his way, and he will always put himself last.

My dad also knows when to give tough love. He knows how to make me respect him without having to ask for it or enforce it. He knows how to make me want to be a better person just to make him proud. He has molded me into who I am today without ever pushing me too hard. He knew the exact times I needed to be reminded who I was.

Dad, you have my respect, trust, but most of all my heart. You have impacted my life most of all, and for that, I can never repay you. Without you, I wouldn't know what I to look for when I finally begin to search for who I want to spend the rest of my life with, but it might take some time to find someone who measures up to you.

To my future husband, I'm sorry. You have some huge shoes to fill, and most of all, I hope you can cook.

Cover Image Credit: Logan Photography

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Take A Note From Cristina Yang — Encourage Girls To Focus On Their Brain Instead Of Their Beauty

Looks are fading, after all.

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Why is society so obsessed with beauty that intelligence is overlooked? Middle school is the start of having cliques and developing crushes on other kids. I remember in middle school, guys were always seeking out girls and the girls would begin wearing makeup to attract their attention. At that age, it's like no one wants to read a book. Instead, they wanted to hang out and make out with each other.

At the age of 12, girls start to wear lip gloss then progress into a full face of makeup. I remember Disney shows had girls trying to improve themselves to get the guy. We often forget looks can fade but knowledge is here to stay.

For future generations, let's influence them to read and bring knowledge into their lives instead of fixating on their beauty.

Parents, it is okay to tell your child they are beautiful, worthy of love but more importantly, they have the ability to change their world. They can be knowledgable and passionate about their interests and succeed, make friends, and change the world.

"Grey's Anatomy" is filled with strong, female characters who love to show off their skills — encourage your daughters to be like them.

In this world, we need more young girls interested in more than pretty boys and longing for validation. Let's build them up and let them fly. It's okay to have crushes but it's not okay to have them run our lives. We shall not let others' opinions determine our worth.

It's not lame if people want to read, be intelligent and find out what you're good at. There are hobbies we can learn from. There are lessons life gives us and we should find our self-worth first. If you're interested in a field like politics, dominate the field, and just be great.

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