In 2019 Crystal Murray’s lifelong dream will come to fruition–joining and being commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army.
Murray knew as a young child that she wanted to join the Army and not only follow in the footsteps as her parents and other family members. Each generation since the Revolutionary War a member of Murray’s family has been in the military. Her mother is a retired Air Force noncommissioned officer and her father served in the Army.
Murray, an MS III cadet at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, is currently the only nursing student in her school’s ROTC program.
“I wanted to be a nurse and I thought it was the best of both worlds because I wanted to be in the Army, and I would help the Army community,” explained Murray. “That’s what’s most important to me. So I decided to go with ROTC in nursing.”
When Murray began school at the University of Washington she was a psychology major. But she decided to transfer to UTC and change her major to nursing. Although Murray has more than enough credits–194–to graduate college, she still has two more years in the program and is currently taking the needed prerequisites.
Murray has completed several monumental milestones in her first year as a contracted cadet. She maxed the Army Physical Fitness test by scoring 300; earned silver in the German Armed Forces Proficiency Test; received one of the three slots UTC was given for Airborne School; and successfully completed Ranger company candidate cycle while maintaining a 4.0 GPA in her first two semesters at UTC. Her cumulative GPA is 3.94. She was also the ROTC cadet honor graduate at Airborne School.
“I wanted to go to Airborne School since I was a little kid and my dad was airborne, and of all of the things in my life that was the one I was sure I wanted (to complete),” Murray said. “It was an amazing opportunity. I always wanted to be a paratrooper. I always looked at paratroopers as my heroes and I really wanted to be one of them. It’s an honor (to be one of them). It’s like I’m standing on the shoulder of giants.”
Murray said she strives to be the best cadet she can possibly be because her parents raised her to believe there is no such thing as extra credit.
“The Army is an amazing team, and I want to give my all,” she said.
Although Murray has made great strides in her first year in the ROTC program, she will continue working on maintaining a
300 on her PT test, a 4.0 GPA and receiving gold in the German Armed Forces Proficiency Test.
After shadowing a nurse anesthetist at the Veteran Affairs hospital she wanted to become one. Even though the program is competitive, Murray is excited about applying to the program. She plans to apply after becoming a captain, which is OK because she said by then she will have experience as a nurse.
“That kind of hooked me (because) I like the challenge,” she said about her future goal.
After Murray receives her commission in the Army she plans to make it a career because she wants to bring esprit de corps to her unit.
“I want to get PT scores up, tactics and be a well-rounded (Soldier),” Murray said. “… It’s not just about me, it’s about the Army. I’m very big on being a team player.”
Pictured above: The father of Cadet Crystal Murray pins her Airborne Wings on after completing the course, where she graduated as ROTC cadet honor graduate. (Photo courtesy of the Murray family)