By: Janna L. Smith (NMMI JC 1989)
In Retrospect: A NMMI ’89 JC female graduate considers her experience vs. that of her son’s experience today.
I attended New Mexico Military Institute (NMMI) in the 1980s when female cadets/students were segregated from the male cadets/students. This policy proved to be an impedance to growth within the Corp regarding the advancement of females. Female cadets appeared to have fewer opportunities to gain roles as Troop Commanders, 1st Sergeants, Platoon Leaders, Squad leaders and Team Leaders. It should be noted that, in my perspective, NMMI as a military/preparatory educational institution actually minimized opportunities for the ROTC cadets to get the practical experience required to further their future in the military and for the cadet who may have been uncertain of their future career direction.
I graduated NMMI JC89. It was a great experience, which is, and always will be a significant time in my life and will always be a time I hold close to my heart. I found my time at the Institute both challenging and satisfying emotionally, physically and mentally. The friendships I made there are still my best friends today after 30 years. I married fellow cadet Jeff Taylor (my ex-husband) after graduation in 1989. Jeff proudly received his commission upon graduation in May of the same year.
Fast forward to the year 2016, and my son Luke insisted on attending NMMI as a freshman. I, as any mom would be, was somewhat wary about sending my son to a live-in military academy three hours away from home. The opportunity and the great experience I enjoyed carried the day in making the decision, so I relented and gave him my blessing; my youngest son, my legacy.
Life purports change & plans take a different direction over time, especially as viewed from a 30-year window. Now the Corps is integrated with many more prospects for female cadets. Gratefully, my son Luke has had many more opportunities in the Corps than were available when I attended. He has received the “Best New Cadet” title in 2016 along with the “Best New Cadet Yearling” in 2017. Luke has promoted through the ranks and today he holds the title of 1st Sergeant of Golf Troop. Luke received the honor of membership to Golf Troop since his father was the Troop Commander in the Golf Troop thirty years ago.
The honor of having a legacy cadet gives me a feeling of pride, not only knowing my very own son adheres to the motto “You shall not lie, cheat or steal or tolerate those who do,” but he is a young man of character and personal resolve. I am blessed to have had the opportunity to attend such a historical and prestigious institution, but for the honor to be repeated for my own son is an indescribable feeling of accomplishment and thankfulness.