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Who’s that girl in uniform? by ROTC

C/3C Rachel Williams ‘12

My name is Rachel Williams, and I work hard. People on campus might know me as Audrey from Little Shop of Horrors or as “TA number 2” (the one with music on Fridays). Some of you prefrosh might know me if you went on a campus tour and remember Rachel. I was the one who made you promise not to let her fall down the stairs (since it actually is possible to be a complete klutz and a varsity fencer). However, I’m probably best remembered as that girl in uniform every Tuesday, Cadet (Rachel) Williams.

I’m an MIT student first (yeah course 16!), but being an AFROTC cadet comes in a close second in my life, because out of everything I do, it means the most to my future. I want to be a fighter pilot in the US Air Force, hopefully going on to be an astronaut on the next generation of space vehicles. As much as I love grading problem sets for 8.02 (I <3 TEAL), it is ROTC that will give me the power to make my dreams come true. This year is especially important because this summer I will be attending something called Field Training for a month at Maxwell AFB.

What is Field Training? Well, it’s a program that all potential Air Force officers must go through before they can commission into the military. It’s essentially AFROTC’s version of basic training and we get ranked against all the other cadets in the country. For those of us who want one of the few pilot slots, it’s a big deal. As such, a large chunk of my time this semester has been spent preparing for Field Training. Being a sophomore, this is our first chance to take charge and set the example for the rest of the detachment. This involves anything from leading Group Leadership Problems (GLPs) to organizing the workout at morning Physical Training (PT). All the while, we’re still p-setting, playing sports, performing, building igloos, and programming robots just like normal MIT students.

I often get asked (mostly by my hallmates who pretty much only see me for dinner) how I do it all. The answer is a combination of personal drive and great friends. I know what I want to do with my life, and I am working hard to get there. However, it takes people like my fellow Air Force cadets and course 16ers to provide that extra bit of motivation Thursday nights when the Unified PSet still isn’t done and we have several deadlines to meet for that Saturday Field Training Evaluation session. If there’s one thing you learn in the military it’s that you cannot complete the mission alone. In fact, some of the best friends I have here I met through ROTC.

When all of you prefrosh get to campus next year (or the year after!) I will have graduated Field Training and will be competing for a pilot slot. I’ll still be tour guiding, fencing…maybe TAing… and I’ll still be that girl in uniform every Tuesday. I’ll be that much closer to being an Air Force fighter pilot and accomplished one of the greatest milestones I’ve had to deal with so far. So say Hi, the camouflage only looks intimidating. =)

8 responses to “Who’s that girl in uniform?”

  1. Alan ('14) says:

    Congratz I wish you the best of luck =]

  2. Alan '13 says:

    Go Rachel! PS – @prefrosh, I can attest as a fellow ‘hallmate’ that we do get to see her a little bit more than just at dinner wink so don’t be too intimidated.
    PPS – @ Alan ’14 — hello younger me smile

  3. Kuan Cheng says:

    rachel. you rock. just sayin’.

  4. Mitparent says:

    I hope you achieve all of your goals. Thank you for volunteering to defend our country.

  5. Rachel '12 says:

    @ Amethyst

    That’s awesome! I’m really good friends with a couple of Marine options in my major, one of whom also wants to be a pilot/astronaut. We go back and forth on which branch is the best, naturally. =) Also, I don’t know if you know this, but Harvard students do ROTC at MIT, I think in all branches, so don’t rule the school out on the basis of them not having an ROTC program (although we know MIT is way cooler…)

    @Everyone else: Thanks!

  6. Amethyst says:


    One reason I considered MIT and several other schools I applied to was the ROTC program. My entire family and extended family are connected to the military, and I am planning to try to get involved with NROTC (Marine option; how cool would it be to be able to say that you were a Marine Corps reservist AND had an MIT education??) wherever I go–hence Harvard is rejected raspberry I also am interested in becoming a pilot and later an astronaut. smile Good luck! Maybe I will see you on Mars someday, lol…

  7. Yuki '12 says:

    Rachel, I want to be a pilot too…

  8. Amethyst says:

    @Rachel ’12: No, I had not known that! But I will keep it in mind, if I ever decide to transfer to Harvard. (Going to Vanderbilt freshman year for personal reasons, although it tore my heartstrings to send Harvard my “take me off the waitlist” letter!) There were other reasons, too, though, besides ROTC. Thanks for the heads-up! smile