By John HarlowJuly 19, 2017
The oath one takes to become an officer in the United States Army is 94 words. After repeating those 94 words, Courtney Cowell transformed from an intern to an officer in the Army.
"I have been working at becoming an officer for a few years now," said Cowell. "It meant a lot to have Lt. Col. (Ryan) Raymond administer the oath."
Many have said with the United States being at war for the past 16 years that it takes a special person to raise his or her right hand and swear to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic.
"I started here (at Natick) when I was doing my co-op program and after meeting everyone here, veterans, active-duty Soldiers, and I think the ones who (impressed me) the most (were) the Human Research Volunteers," said Cowell. "You saw how selflessly they came here to do research with us to help better the rest of the Soldiers. I was inspired by them."
A graduate of Northeastern University, Cowell originally wanted to enroll in the ROTC program --something that her family didn't fully support.
"My Dad said no to me joining ROTC when I went to Northeastern," said Cowell. "As a police officer in New York, he had a better idea of life than I did at 18. He said if he is paying for college, I am not doing ROTC. Now after working at Natick and deciding to go forward with a career in the Army, he is the most supportive person."
During Cowell's time at Natick, she worked at the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine and the Natick Soldier, Research, Development and Engineering Center.
"I started with two co-ops that were six to eight months each and then signed on with the Pathways Program," said Cowell. "I did three eight-month rotations. My first rotation was with the biological sciences and technology team, where I did a lot of microbiology research to develop a UTI preventative wipe for female Soldiers. I then went to USARIEM to work on human research. I was part of the study on microclimate heating. We studied the effects of heating on the forearms and the face to improve dexterity in the hands and also participated in the Pikes Peak study from Natick.
"I finished up my last rotation with the Combat Feeding Directorate. We worked on food safety and packaging."
Cowell's boyfriend is a veteran, and seeing the many medical issues that veterans face made her want to be part of the solution. She starts medical school Aug. 1 at the Walter Reed Medical Center.
"In five years, I hope to see myself in a residency program, and I would love to be at Walter Reed," said Cowell. "I am really interested in family medicine because that is where the greatest need for physicians is. Having been here at Natick and meeting many Soldiers and veterans, psychiatry interests me, as well."
Cowell said she was inspired during her time at the Natick Soldier Systems Center.
"I have had many people help me learn what the military is like and mentors who are scientists but also Soldiers like Marissa Spitz, who has been a huge mentor to me joining the military," said Cowell. "Being here has really shown me how everyone -- especially our veterans -- deserves the best health care. I want to be a part of the team that helps them going forward."