Cadet Overcomes Rare Disease

ROTC students pose in a group on the steps of Hartwell Hall
Brockport’s ROTC program gives cadet a chance to follow in her family’s footsteps.

Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) at SUNY Brockport offers more than just a pathway to commission into the United States military.

For senior Glynnis Santeramo, earning a minor in military science is a way for her to follow in her family’s footsteps.

Her journey with ROTC started when she met Daniel Fletcher, the recruiting and operations officer for Brockport’s program. After expressing her interest in ROTC, Fletcher explained that her visual impairment would prevent her from being eligible to enlist in the military or become a commissioned officer, but it wouldn’t prevent her from participating in the program.

Military life is in Santeramo’s blood. Her grandfather was awarded two Purple Hearts for his service in the Korean War. Her parents were both in ROTC programs and later joined the Navy.

“I wanted to prove to people that I could do it,” she said. “The minor could help me help others.”

The ROTC program is about more than recruiting for the US Army. It’s about teaching leadership. Some students enroll in one military science class, while others earn a minor. Some just want to perform the physical training (PT), getting in early morning workouts with about 60 others, Fletcher explained.

About 10 students are currently taking a single class or pursuing the minor, while about 57 of them are either on track to commission or already have contracts with the National Guard. The military science minor includes four total classes that teach chaos management, Army history, values, the phraseology and culture, land navigation, squad tactics, infantry tactics, and maneuvering as a squad.

The program offered Santeramo a potential gateway to her future career. As an alcohol and substance abuse studies major, she hopes to one day land a contract with the Department of Defense and work on a military base. She is working toward securing an internship at Fort Drum, an Army base near Watertown, NY, before her expected 2021 graduation.

While studying at Brockport, Santeramo was diagnosed with a disease she said only 20 people in the world have. It has caused her to lose some abilities, like walking. She now navigates campus with a wheelchair and notes some people have begun to treat her differently. But throughout, ROTC has accepted her.

“You got to love her pluck and courage,” Fletcher said.

Back to Brockport Today

Author: Meghan Finnerty


Posted: April 17, 2020