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WARRENSBURG, Missouri (March 26, 2021) – Being an ROTC Cadet can be a challenge – having to juggle the duties of college classwork as well as the responsibilities Cadets manage as part of ROTC and commissioning requirements. Cadet Shanyndoah Tuttle, in the University of Central Missouri, Fighting Mules Battalion, is taking on that challenge, as well as that of spouse and mother.
It may seem like a plate full for most, but it’s just the latest season of her life. Tuttle had become a mother of two and achieved the rank of staff sergeant when she was selected for the Green to Gold program.
Now working towards a degree in Bachelors of Science- Aviation Maintenance Management, Tuttle said she didn’t originally see the joining the Army, let alone becoming an officer, in her future.
“I joined the Army in 2010. I had tried two years of community college but couldn’t afford to continue my education. I always had an interest in the military, but didn’t think I’d be ‘tough’ enough,” she explained. “After talking to a recruiter, I signed up to be an Unmanned Aircraft Systems Maintainer (15E) because it was a job working on airplanes.”
“I wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself, and the GI Bill was a nice perk. I signed up for six years, ready for something exciting,” she added.
She said several factors influenced her decision to become an officer.
“I had an amazing command team that supported and encouraged me to teach and mentor, and while I was an Advanced Individual Training (AIT) instructor, I decided that if I wanted to continue to make an impact, at a larger scale, I should consider becoming an officer,” she said. “As a mechanic, I spent years learning how to identify problems, fix them and prevent them from happening again. I’ve worked closely with Soldiers of different ranks to achieve the mission, and have learned a great deal about how community fosters a great working environment.”
“Because I have lived the life of a junior enlisted member, I feel I am more attuned to the needs and requirements for Soldiers, and as an NCO, I was faced with problem solving and developing the future leaders,” she added. “I firmly believe that leaders should share knowledge, recognize excellence and help each other because a positive environment leads to a cohesive unit that’s willing and able to go above and beyond.”
Having a career in aviation is something the Denver native said has aspired to as long as she can remember.
“I’ve loved airplanes ever since I was a child, and when I had the chance to work within aviation I was thrilled. There’s a certain magic and audacity that humans possess when we’re capable of seeing the world from a dizzying height,” she said. “I earned my airframe and power plant certificate, and have seen first-hand how sparse the female population is within aviation maintenance, both within the civilian sector and military aviation. By transitioning my role from mechanic to pilot, I hope to remain in a field that I love and to encourage other females to try something different and exciting.”
“Also, the technological advances within aviation are increasing, and it’s exciting to be a part of a field that is relatively new to humans. To this day I still stop what I’m doing to grin at a plane or helicopter flying above me,” she added.
Being a parent of two, along with being a student and an ROTC Cadet, has its challenges, but she feels that experience only builds upon some the skills she will need as a future officer.
“My children are four and three, and I wouldn’t be as successful without a strong support system. My daughter asks when I’ll be done with homework and if she can wear my ‘unicorn’ (uniform), and my son loves to rough house with me. It’s difficult at times to juggle the different hats, one day I’m Cadet Tuttle, another day I’m mommy, yet another day I’m a student studying for finals,” she shared. “Being able to compartmentalize and identify the most important needs of the day has been my key to success. Knowing that I’m working hard to provide for my family is the motivation that keeps me going, so my children can see they can do anything they put their mind to.”
Lt. Col. Bryan Vaden, Professor of Military Science for University of Central Missouri, said Tuttle is not only managing all of those hats, but excelling as a Cadet.
“Cadet Tuttle has brought an incredible amount of passion, leadership, and mentorship to the battalion. Immediately upon arrival, she was recognized by all Cadets as a passionate leader with NCO leadership experience and they immediately started leaning on her for advice and counsel,” he said. “She has made a significant impact on the organization in her one year here and will certainly dominate at Cadet Summer Training as she showcases her leadership and teamwork skills.
Added to all of that, Tuttle will going to Fort Knox this summer to complete Cadet Summer Training. She sees it as yet another opportunity to build upon all of the skills she gained over the years.
“I’m excited to see different leadership styles manifest from the other Cadets throughout the country. We all have had different experiences, learning, growing and developing from all corners of the county, and it will be interesting being part of such a broad spectrum of training and events,” Tuttle said. “The OPTEMPO [Operational Tempo] will remind me of a deployment, where every mission is important and to give it my all. I had some of the best times of my life while sweaty, dirty and tired on deployment, and I look forward to working together with cadets as we continue to train as future officers.”
Looking toward the future, Tuttle said she always lets advice given to her by her mother guide her.
“My mother made it a point to instill this in me - “You will always be alright.” This motto has kept me going through hard times, and I try to keep it in mind,” she said.
She also shared some advice she has learned herself.
“Take the time to develop and cultivate relationships. The Army is a small world, and you’ll run into people again and again. Lastly, don’t give up, do your best and take care of each other,” she said.
About Army ROTC
Army ROTC is one of the best leadership courses in the country and is part of your college curriculum. Through classes and field training, Army ROTC provides you with the tools to become an Army Officer without interfering with your other classes. ROTC also provides you with discipline and money for tuition while enhancing your college experience.
Army ROTC offers pathways to becoming an Army Officer for high school students, current active duty Soldiers, and for current National Guard and Army Reserve Soldiers through the Simultaneous Membership Program.