When you think of active duty military members, do you picture young girls in a college sorority?
Women have had to fight for so long to be taken seriously. Sometimes people disregard traditionally “women-centered” organizations, thinking that it brings us down as a gender. It is time that the world knows that women can be anything and do anything that they want to. This includes being a part of the military and a sorority.
In 1917, Loretta Walsh became the first woman to enlist in the U.S. Military. Since then, many brave young women have signed over their lives to help guide and protect those they love.
I was given the opportunity to interview some of these young women.
Madison Fritts, her sister, Amber Fritts, and Shelby Pitts are active members of the United States Army National Guard, the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps), and UAB sororities. Madison and Shelby are members of Sigma Kappa sorority, and Amber is a member of Kappa Delta sorority.
The Fritts’ both began their ROTC journey from an ad their father found in the newspaper one day. The ad explained that the Army National Guard was offering a scholarship to those who enlisted. They applied immediately. They were given the opportunity to serve their country and attend school for free. Madison stated, “I wanted to join because it was a way to push myself in a way I never thought I would.” Amber said she was originally planning to enroll in the Air Force ROTC program before the National Guard scholarship was found.
Shelby’s story hits a little closer to home.
She started college by following her family’s footsteps by enrolling in the Air Force ROTC program her freshman year. After doubting herself, she left the ROTC program. When her grandfather passed away in 2017, she chose to honor his memory and returned to ROTC.
The Fritts and Shelby felt the need to get out of their comfort zone to make friends on campus. Madison and Shelby became founding mothers of Sigma Kappa at UAB in 2015. Amber is one of Kappa Delta’s founding members, which was founded in 2017. Amber stated, “I… fell in love with kappa delta and all the beautiful and smart women in the sorority and became a founding mother of Kappa Delta on 28 Oct 2017.”
Being a founding mother of a sorority means that you have gone through the proper channels to bring a chapter of that sorority to your University. These three girls joined others in doing this, but it shows their leadership qualities in their ability to bring an entire chapter to their school.
Shelby believes in fighting sorority stereotypes by showing that the women of her sorority and those around her are all unique and talented. Madison stated, “I never saw myself as a sorority girl, but all of the women from Sigma Kappa were so genuine and kind.”
These three young women find that the biggest challenge being in both ROTC and their sororities are the time conflicts.
Madison stated: “Sometimes I am unable to come to events because I am at an ROTC event or drill. However, my sisters are very understanding and are always there to catch me up on what I miss.” Amber recalled missing her chapter’s first “recruitment”: “I was unable to attend recruitment because I was doing CERFP training in Mississippi.”
CEFRP (Chemical, Biological, Radiological/Nuclear, and Explosive Response Force Package) training involves a team practicing how to handle contamination during battle, and how to decontaminate those who do not live through it. (https://www.army.mil/article/29824/physical_training_gear_does_double_duty_for_cerfp_soldiers )
That description represents how terrifying being a part of the military can be. You never know what kind of curveballs are going to hit. These girls go through months of training to be prepared for anything.
Sorority recruitment also requires extensive training.
You spend months prior to the week of recruitment preparing conversation pieces, uniformity, and chants. It may seem easy, given that rush week is advertised as lasting a week, but it is so much more.
The Fritts sisters not only participate in Sigma Kappa/Kappa Delta and ROTC, they are also members of the organization Universities Fighting World Hunger. Amber was once the President of the Blazer Running Club and the Pre-Physical Therapy society. She is also an intern for the campus recreational athletic training room. Madison has held leadership positions with Sigma Kappa and is a member of the ROTC Color Guard. Shelby is also member of the Pre-Physical Therapy society, Black Student Awareness Committee, and Her Campus.
So, not only do these women spend a large amount of time dedicated to the military and their respected sororities, but they also try to better the world through other campus organizations.
I asked the girls who inspired them and what advice they could share with you. They all find strength from their friends in ROTC, their sorority sisters, and their family. Shelby finds inspiration from her future. She stays motivated to give herself the best future she can imagine. She also stated: “The military can seem intimidating, but without the army I wouldn’t be who I am. I have become a better version of myself and this is something I wish everyone finds…”
Their advice for you is to get out of your comfort zone, whether it be joining a new sorority or signing up for ROTC. You won’t know how you feel about it until you give it a try. They have both found lasting friendships and have greater confidence in themselves.
If there is anything you should take away from this article, it is that women can be anything and do anything if they just try. You do not have to join the military to be brave. You can be brave by fighting for what you believe in and securing the education you need to help the world in different ways. Madison and Amber are being brave by serving our country, completing college courses, and meeting new people.
Please, comment down below to share how you are/can be brave!