When most college students are asleep, Madeline Messare ’22 and her fellow ROTC cadets are already well into their morning workout.
Starting her day at 5 a.m., Messare—a dual major in forensic science and psychology at Syracuse University’s College of Arts and Sciences—thrives on the challenges being a cadet presents. “I love the structure of it, the mental and physical challenge that makes accomplishing a goal extremely rewarding. I am proud to wear the uniform because it symbolizes being a part of something bigger than myself,” she says.
Leadership Training in the ROTC
Messare was somewhat of a late entry into the Army ROTC, joining at the start of her junior year after a discussion with her aunt and uncle, both lieutenant colonels in the U.S. Army.
In June, she attended ROTC Cadet Advanced Camp—a 38-day training event that assesses a cadet’s ability to demonstrate proficiency in basic officer leadership tasks. Throughout the five phases of the camp, cadets complete lessons and activities that include physical training, team building, land navigation, rifle marksmanship, rappelling, battle drills and more.
I am proud to wear the uniform because it symbolizes being a part of something bigger than myself.—Madeline Messare ’22
Despite her lack of ROTC experience compared to many of the other cadets, Messare exceeded her own expectations on her ability to lead. “I was able to quickly learn from observing my peers the kind of leadership that received the best response from my fellow cadets, and I absorbed more knowledge than I ever could have imagined.”
In July, Messare returned home eager to utilize her new leadership skills in opportunities within the ROTC and in other endeavors. “I learned a lot about myself and what kind of leader I am,” says Messare.
For all her ROTC efforts, Messare was one of eight Army and Air Force ROTC cadets awarded the Dottle Family ROTC Cadet Scholarship. The scholarship is part of a larger leadership gift from the Dottle family, which provided support and funding to the Office of Veteran and Military Affairs and allows the ROTC programs to recognize deserving cadets and ensure that the University’s ROTC programs continue to train the best military leaders in the country. She was also recently announced as one of the 35 Remembrance Scholars for 2021-22. “I was in tears when I found out about the Remembrance Scholarship,” says Messare. “Both scholarships are such honors that propel me to make a positive change in the community.”
A Leader on the Field and at Home
When she’s not studying, completing physical training, practicing tactics or attending her required weekly ROTC lab, Messare can be found on the field serving as backs captain with the Syracuse University Women’s Rugby Football Club. “I knew I wanted to be a part of this team before arriving on campus my freshman year,” she reflects, “but I never expected it to give me lifelong friends and a sense of family away from home.”
She’s also a resident advisor with the Psychology Living and Learning Community. “I've learned a lot through ROTC, and being an RA, the best way to have an effective response is to treat these first-year students as your peers,” Messare explains. She’s made it a point to foster a welcoming environment and make herself approachable to the students. “I would hate for them to not be able to come to me for help.”
Making a Difference in the Military
Messare was interested in law enforcement as a young child, and she is now is focusing her efforts on studying for the LSAT and choosing a law school to attend. Her dream is to join the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General Corps (JAG Corps) to advocate for people who are affected by the shortcomings of military law.
My learned ability to break down and create innovative solutions to complex problems will help me promote positive change within my future career.—Madeline Messare ’22
“There are so many changes currently happening within military law, and I want to be a part of these reforms,” she says. “I have learned that I want to advocate for Special Victims, so individuals who feel powerless do not get marginalized within the system.”
Beyond a career in the JAG Corps, Messare is interested in a career as a behavioral analyst with the FBI, one reason why she chose to study forensic science and psychology. “My goals are vast because I have realized that our past, and the way our brain interprets these experiences, is interwoven into everything we do. Psychology is the most critical science behind understanding the ‘why’ within our actions. The first step into solving any problem is awareness, and even though I am only one person, I can be a voice that cues people in my surrounding communities to realize their why."
I want to advocate for Special Victims, so individuals who feel powerless do not get marginalized within the system.—Madeline Messare ’22
She’s also minoring in Chinese language to help her achieve this career goal, as Chinese is one of the top two foreign languages the FBI prefers its agents to speak. Learning Chinese has provided her insight to a new culture and opened doors for her to connect with international students living on her floor and professors in the language department.
Messare stresses that all these experiences have pushed her to become a better leader and problem solver and to learn how to adapt quickly to different situations. “My learned ability to break down and create innovative solutions to complex problems will help me promote positive change within my future career.”