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Veterans Day Q&A: Mariel Cortes Young ’11

Why this veteran realized her best time to serve the country, was right now.
  • Mariel Cortes Young ’11

When did you know you wanted to go into the military?

A few years after I finished undergrad was when I thought to myself, ” Well, if there is any time to join it would be now.” I had thought about it during high school and throughout my undergraduate time, but never found the right moment to do so. I come from a military family.

My brother served in the Navy, Father-in-law served in the Army, and my uncle served in the Air Force.

What is your role in the Army?

My role is satellite communications, encryption, and coding of transmissions. We ensure the lines of communication are always open, by installing, operating, and maintaining strategic and tactical multi-channel satellite communications. Our work is a vital part of the military’s ability to run successful missions. 

Any memorable moments to share during your time with the US Army?

Nothing beats basic training! Being away from family for 10 weeks across the country, with no access to your phone. You truly make the best bond with the people you are with as you are all learning how to “embrace the suck.”

After college you worked as an EMTwhat was that like?

I really enjoyed working as an EMT. I met great coworkers and thrived in an environment in which everyday was something different. Imagine working for 12+ hours in a van, listening to music, podcasts, silence, finding quick but healthy and fun places to eat together while simultaneously seeing and helping patients on what could be their worst day ever. I worked as an EMT throughout my time applying for grad schools and figuring out the Army life with full support of my managers, husband, and coworkers.

You are studying to be an audiologist. What attracted you to this career?

When a very close family member was on comfort care, I asked the home nurse if my family member could even hear/understand me even if they were not awake. I remember the nurse saying, “hearing is the last sense to go in the cycle of life.” That moment has led me to be interested in a similar topic of study, as well as how hearing, cognitive decline, and mental status are correlated to one another.

Any other thoughts or experiences as a woman in the Army?

I am still on the enlisted side for a few more years before I direct commission into Army Medicine, and I don’t think I’d do it any other way. It’s been tough at times, but as long as you speak up and do what you think is right everything will work out.

Any words of advice for students/alumnae considering joining the military?

Network, network, network! Really know what you want to do and know your “reason why.”

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