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In their own words: Randee Farrell

Farrell was the senior captain of the Army women’s soccer team in 2001. She is a former marketing officer for the university and officer representative for the women’s soccer team.

At West Point, they’re always preparing you – that’s why we train the way that we do while we’re there – but I think it became a little more realistic to everyone after Sept. 11 that our service wasn’t going to be a six months to a year deployment. We weren’t going to Kosovo or Bosnia. It was going to be a realistic battle.

The mindsets changed because people recognized that you weren’t going to have years to prepare. Everyone was paying a little closer attention to the news to see exactly what was going to happen. We were all also paying a little closer attention to our training and I think the staff ratcheted that up, as well.

As patriotism grew throughout the country, people were actually more invigorated for their service than they were before because they saw it as something that was pure defense of American culture.

I give current Cadets more credit because they know what they’re getting into, and they’re still signing up for it. I think they’re more inspired for their service because of it. Their parents are a little bit more wary in some cases, but the students know what they’re getting into and they know they’re making an informed decision beforehand.

We see the prospective students and their parents. A lot of the questions are like, “What can we come to expect?” I say, well, if you asked me in 1997 when I visited West Point, I thought it was going to be a six-month deployment and it was not a big deal. Most people did five years and got out. Now I think people are more realistic to what’s coming and they’re actually inspired by the fact that they’re coming to West Point because they’re going to be part of something larger. I don’t know if we actually had that when we were coming in.

There’s more of a mission mindset now. West Point, I can say, is the one decision that has impacted my life the most and made me who I am today, and I still think it prepares you the best for life. I have no regrets, and I would definitely do it again.