A Day in the Life of Midshipman O’Brien

obrien-1My name is Conor O’Brien and I am a Marine Option Midshipman at Cornell University. I am also a member of the Varsity Lacrosse team. The weekly schedule for ROTC involves two Physical Training (PT) sessions at 0600, two Naval Science class periods, as well as a two-hour drill lab. For lacrosse, my schedule varies from the off-season to in-season, but generally involves 2-3 hours of practices and workouts per day. In this post, I am going to take you through a normal Wednesday for me and talk about my life at Cornell along the way.

A typical Wednesday starts at 0500. I wake up to change into my PT uniform and drive over to Bartels Hall for accountability with the Naval ROTC unit. Most PT sessions are some sort of long distance run (3 miles or so) followed by some calisthenics. Other days we will have interval training with sprints super-setted with bodyweight exercises. PT lasts from 0600-0700 and always ends with a cool down and stretch.
Luckily for me, I don’t have class until 1010 on Wednesdays and I can drive home to shower, cook breakfast, and change into my uniform. Every Wednesday the whole Unit wears their uniforms, which are typically navy issued khakis while the weather is decent. When it gets cold out, the uniform of the day changes to the Navy Working Uniform for Navy options or MARPATs for Marine options. Some students have class right after PT so they shower in the gym locker room and eat at a dining hall such as Trillium before their first class.

The NROTC unit is made up of both Navy and Marine Options. The day-to-day life is basically the same for both, although Navy options are required to take 2 more semesters of Naval Science obrien-3classes. Marine options run 3 miles as opposed to 1.5 miles for their fitness tests and do pull-ups instead of pushups. Additionally, Marine options will often do marches or field exercises as well as meetings for Semper Fi Society, in addition to the standard midshipmen responsibilities. These additional duties are a great time to focus on team-building and leadership. The biggest difference between the Navy and Marine Corps midshipmen is in their summer training requirements, as after their sophomore year Marine Options go to Mountain Warfare School and then Officer Candidate School the following summer, and Navy Options go on cruises. Both options go to CORTRAMID after their freshman year where they are shown different aspects of the Navy and Marine Corps.

obrien-2My class on Wednesdays is Business Management in the Dyson School. I am an Applied Economics and Management major, which is essentially a business major. I switched into this major because it focuses on communication skills, like presentations, and management skills which I personally believe will help me succeed as an officer more than a very technical major. Additionally, I know many people from my Lacrosse team in the major as well as some Midshipmen so I always have a group for projects and studying.

Every Wednesday from 1430-1630 is drill lab. This is essentially a 2-hour period that is utilized differently every week. Some days it is a presentation or a guest speaker, and other times it is martial arts training, paintball, or some other physical activity. This is probably the most important weekly unit event as it is the only time you are with the entire unit other than at PT, and many of the activities are both enjoyable and productive.

After drill lab, I have lacrosse practice from 1900-2100. Being a varsity athlete and a member of ROTC is extremely time-consuming, but is absolutely worth the commitment. Both programs complement each other and have made me more successful both athletically and academically. It is often difficult to balance classes, sports, and ROTC commitments, and the extra workouts are very hard. But having two great groups of people to hang out with makes every second worth it. I have great friends in both organizations that I will know for the rest of my life, and I am very proud to call myself a member of both. The more you put into your college experience at Cornell the more you will get out of it, and I would absolutely recommend being a part of both a team and NROTC.