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A Few Good Women

Carolyn Stankiewicz leads Rutgers ROTC during Sandhurst, the prestigious event that showcases the physical prowess of the nation’s elite military units.

Carolyn Stankiewicz
Carolyn Stankiewicz ranked 97th in her ROTC graduating class of 5,700 men and women nationwide.  Photography by Nick Romanenko

Lieutenant Colonel Ken Patterson, the commander of the Rutgers ROTC unit in New Brunswick, teases senior Carolyn Stankiewicz that he might have to fail her—simply because he can’t afford to lose her to graduation. “Carolyn sets the bar extremely high and inspires others, whether it is our young female or male cadets,” he says. “We do more before 9 in the morning than most people will do in an entire day, and Carolyn exemplifies that ideal.”

Stankiewicz’s physical endurance was on display during Sandhurst 2010, a prestigious two-day military skills competition held in April at the West Point Military Academy. The nine-member Rutgers team, one of only eight ROTC teams chosen out of 275 nationwide, qualified for the annual competition by finishing ahead of 41 other teams in the three-day ROTC Ranger Challenge regional competition in October 2009.

“As a freshman, I was only able to do seven push-ups in two minutes; now I do 60,” says Stankiewicz, a Deptford native who, upon graduating, will leave for Fort Gordon for eight months of signal corps training before heading to a base in Germany for three years. “ROTC has taught me that through hard work and determination, there isn’t anything you can’t accomplish.”

Stankiewicz, a communication and religion double major, ranked 97th in the nation among the 5,700 men and women in her ROTC graduating class. The ranking is based on physical fitness as well as grade-point average and leadership skills. Stankiewicz knocks out sit-ups and push-ups, and runs two miles with the best of them, says Patterson, who along with First Sergeant Chris Smith, trains the 100 members of the Rutgers ROTC unit.