magazine-category: Military Spotlight

No Wasted Time

Larri Robinson 1st Annual ROTC Hybrid Challenge

Larri Robinson, ’20, Discovers Army ROTC Gave Her Structure to Excel

Larri RobinsonAfter researching her interests and spending time on the job with her mother who works in healthcare, Lareshia “Larri” Robinson, of Hendersonville, N.C., chose nursing as her career path. She enrolled in Gardner-Webb University’s Hunt School of Nursing for three main reasons: The program accepts freshmen, she received a scholarship, and the campus felt like home.

However, during her first semester at GWU, she encountered a problem that most students don’t complain about—too much free time. “I was used to being a year-round athlete, not having any down time, just go, go, go,” Robinson explained. “I got here and I was sitting in my dorm room thinking, ‘I have four hours to waste, just today.’ I didn’t have the structure in my life that I was used to having.”

Her dad served in the Army so she had researched the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC). She decided to talk to Capt. Michael Meissner, director of the Army ROTC program and senior military science instructor at GWU. “He invited me to come and do PT (physical training) with the group,” Robinson shared. “I joined them and realized that ROTC at Gardner-Webb is a family. We are super close. We don’t just see each other three times a week at 6 a.m. We spend the majority of our week hanging out with each other.”

In her sophomore year, she applied and was offered a ROTC scholarship. “There’s a team, a family, a bond that can’t be broken when you find your niche, and the military is my niche,” Robinson described.

After receiving her associate degree in nursing in May 2019, she participated in the ROTC’s Nursing Summer Training Program (NSTP), a requirement for all nursing cadets. “It’s a glimpse into your future,” Robinson noted. “During NSTP at Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., I spent approximately 136 hours there, mostly in the surgical intensive care unit but I also rotated into medical-surgical and the pediatric floor. I learned the expectations and the realities of being an active duty U.S. Army nurse.”

While she was there, she took advantage of an opportunity to be a guardian for an honor flight of veterans who came to Washington, D.C., to see their memorials. “They get assigned a one-on-one for the day, because they need extra help,” she related. “That entire day really solidified in my mind that I am doing what I am meant to do. Walking up to the wall with a Vietnam veteran – I don’t even have the words to put into perspective the emotion behind it and the pride you feel to be able to say that this happened and he was a part of it. He wanted me to walk up to the wall with him, because he knows I’m the future of it.”

When Robinson graduated in May 2020 with her Bachelor of Science in nursing, she received a commission as a second lieutenant and is fulfilling her contract to serve four years of active duty in the military. “I was a total introvert,” she reflected. “The Army taught me how to talk to people, how to utilize my resources, and to become an overall leader.”

Larri Robinson with ROTC

About ROTC

Founded in 1916, the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) is a college program offered at more than 1,700 colleges and universities across the United States. In exchange for a paid college education and a guaranteed post-college career, cadets commit to serve in the military after graduation. Gardner-Webb also provides free room and board for students who receive an ROTC scholarship.

Gardner-Webb has had an ROTC presence since the 1990s when the GWU students could enroll in Army ROTC at Wofford College in Spartanburg, S.C.

However, the current program came into existence with the Partnership Agreement signed in July 2004 by the U.S. Army, UNC-Charlotte, and Gardner-Webb University. In the Spring of 2005, GWU Army ROTC became C Company, 49er Battalion. The 49er Battalion consists of the following schools: UNC-Charlotte, Belmont Abbey College, Davidson College, Johnson & Wales University, Winthrop University, Gardner-Webb University, Queens University, Johnson C. Smith University, Wingate University, Pfeiffer University, Lenoir Rhyne, and Central Piedmont Community College.

ROTC cadets use their talents in various fields in the military including infantry, engineers, tankers, military police, and in health care such as nursing. Students receive in-depth instruction in the art of leadership and the science of management which is augmented by practical exercise on a weekly basis.

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