When Clevy first signed up for Army ROTC at Tuskegee University in 2012, she was always eager to discover the different opportunities the Army offered. Attending Army Airborne school became an immediate goal as soon as her instructors briefed everyone about competing for the one and only slot the school would get. To obtain the one and only slot for Army Airborne School would give her great honor to not only represent the school, her Army ROTC program, and the future Army Officers to be (as her current rank as an Army ROTC cadet), and would mean the world to her.
The requirements the ROTC program created for the competition for the Airborne School slot consisted of: highest APFT score (Army Physical Fitness Test –consists of 2 min. push-ups, 2-min. sit-ups, and a two-mile run), leadership capabilities, highest academics/GPA, obstacle course, pull-up competition without assistance, and ROTC instructor recommendations. Clevy knew that she would be competing with multiple guys from her Army ROTC program and immediately started training and preparing her mind, body, and spirit to earn the one and only slot and to come back from summer break with Army Airborne Wings pinned on her uniform.
She was working two jobs in college (one in the House of Business dean’s office between classes and the other at the phone-a-thon in the evenings throughout the week and weekends. Instead of complaining that she was too busy with work and school, she had to also make time to train - even outside of mandatory physical fitness training with my fellow cadets in the Army ROTC program every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning.
Since Clevy didn’t know anyone that graduated from Army Airborne School, she did research on Army Airborne School online. Her ROTC instructors advised her to “be prepared to run your guts out everyday, be prepared to be bruised, and make sure you can control your parachute when you jump.” With that said, she created her own training on what she needed to be prepared for after watching YouTube videos on the three weeks of Army Airborne School – ground week, tower week, and jump week. Clevy focused her workouts on HIIT training (High Intensity Interval Training), pull-ups, and a lot of running.
As the time grew closer to taking the APFT, obstacle course, and pull-up competition, to compete for the Airborne School slot, she felt prepared. Some of the guys that she was up against were faster and stronger, but she continued to focus on her beast mode and doing her best in every event. Once the Army ROTC instructors completed reviewing the entire package of everyone competing for the Airborne School slot, Clevy was informed she was selected to attend Army Airborne School in the summer. There was only one slot and she got it! She was so excited and as was her class ROTC instructor.
In the midst of her excitement, Clevy realized she had a slight dilemma - she was offered a full internship during the summer starting literally the week after summer break started and ended a few days before school would start up for the next school year. She recognized that day by day the Army was growing on her and instead of her wanting to request for the Army Reserves senior year (and take a full-time position in the business field post-graduation), Clevy decided to request Active Duty. However, that didn’t solve the issue. She contacted the internship to see if she could work for the majority of the summer, which would allow her to gain work experience and attend Army Airborne School immediately after. She knew she would have to maintain her strict workout regimen in order to stay ready for Airborne School, but was determined to stay focused. Thankfully, Clevy was allowed to shorten the internship time period and still attend Army Airborne School.
Day one of Army Airborne School, and all the other ‘cadets’ (those of us from Army ROTC programs around the United States) were thrown to the end of every squad, since they were not allowed to blend in with the Active Duty or Reserve component Soldiers because they were not completely in the Army yet. They were treated different at first because they were all “Army Officers to be” and majority of the soldiers with them at Airborne School were enlisted. Instructors were called “Sergeant Airborne” and all students were called “Airborne.”
From week one to week three of Airborne School, Clevy was quite bruised and exhausted. At the end of every day, she would shower, then head straight to sleep. She’d wake up motivated each and every day and encouraged those around her, especially with the difficult training they all endured. There were daily runs that consisted of roughly five miles at a 6-8 minute per mile pace. The Georgie weather was hot and muggy and she wasn’t acclimated to it, which made her push herself even harder. Sergeant Airborne informed the Airbornes that if anyone fell out of a run, a warning would be issued the first time, then they would be kicked out of Airborne school the second time. There was a possibility they may get recycled to the next class coming up and sent back home.
The same situation happened with injuries. She bruised my body pretty badly for 3 weeks straight. Her body was wearing down every day and Clevy had a really bad landing where she injured my knee severely and didn't think she would be able to walk again. Clevy had to push through because she was not going to leave Airborne School without getting her Airborne wings and making her Army ROTC program and instructors proud. There was no other class she could attend because after this Airborne School because she had to be back at Tuskegee University for her next semester. She refused to let any obstacle get in the way. She pushed through the pain and had to hide her limp from the instructors. She graduated Airborne School. Her instructors came to her graduation and her Army ROTC Battalion Commander pinned her Airborne Wings on her. Looking back, she is proud of herself for setting this goal, training endlessly, and pushing herself to accomplish her goal no matter what obstacles she faced. She was so thankful to have had the opportunity to attend and graduate from Army Airborne School.
Army Airborne Training (video does not include Clevy)