NROTC Midshipman Earns National Recognition
The Navy has always been part of senior Kathleen McDowell’s life and has already led to her receiving formal recognition for her efforts. Because of her family’s long involvement with the Navy, she has many places to call home, including Kings Bay, Ga., where her parents now live.
From an early age, McDowell knew that she wanted to follow in her father’s footsteps, by joining the Navy and pursuing a career that would allow her to serve her country and help people. McDowell, who serves as a midshipman in the Navy Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program at Rensselaer, was recently
honored by the Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Awards Corporation (HENAAC).
“I understand that everyone has different
circumstances, so it was really humbling
for me to be able to listen and
talk with high school students, so that
I could try to encourage them and let
them know that it’s possible for them
to achieve great things if they work
toward their goals.”—Kathleen McDowell
A biomedical engineering major, McDowell received the 2012 HENAAC Cadet Role Model Award, which recognizes outstanding midshipmen/cadets pursuing a career in science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) fields, who exemplify leadership and the core values of their service.
“Kathleen McDowell is an exceptionally talented and hardworking midshipman and student at Rensselaer,” said Captain Dan Arensmeyer, commanding officer and professor of naval science at Rensselaer. “It is personally and professionally gratifying to see her receive such well-earned recognition for her efforts and achievements.”
Already recognized as an inspirational leader, McDowell has carved out time to pursue a broad range of athletic, social, extracurricular, and community-service activities within the Navy ROTC branch and beyond. She has been part of the Military Excellence Swim competition and served as a member of several Iron Women teams. Her passion for swimming has also led her to serve on the women’s varsity swim team at Rensselaer. McDowell is also a member of the Rensselyrics, who are widely considered one of the oldest collegiate a cappella groups. She also took part in the annual Relay for Life event, sponsored by the American Cancer Society.
The award recipients are selected nationally, one from the appropriate academy and the other from an ROTC program. During the conference—held in Washington, D.C.—awardees have the opportunity to address Hispanic and minority students who are pursuing military careers, and share some of their personal stories, achievements, and future goals.
“I really enjoyed the opportunity that I had to share my experiences with other Hispanic students involved in or interested in pursuing a future career in the STEM fields,” said McDowell. “I understand that everyone has different circumstances, so it was really humbling for me to be able to listen and talk with high school students who may not have had a supportive family like mine, so that I could try to encourage them and let them know that it’s possible for them to achieve great things if they work toward their goals, and many of them are. It was also very exciting to meet and interact with various professionals with shared interests.”
McDowell was cited for her efforts in maintaining a high level of achievement in all areas of her school work and extracurricular activities, along with her role of serving as a volunteer to support several community-based fundraising and education efforts.
The NROTC Unit at Rensselaer was commissioned in September 1941 (three months prior to Pearl Harbor) as the first NROTC Unit in the state of New York, and as one of the 28 units located at colleges and universities throughout the country at that time. To learn more, go to www.rpi.edu/dept/naval/www/begin.html.
Note: Midshipman Mike Pizzari also contributed to this story.