Sunday, November 22, 2009

Auggie at a Glance - Whitney Pratt

From Augsburg's newspaper, the Echo (two weeks ago):
Auggie at a Glance - Whitney Pratt
Born in Landstuhl, Germany to parents stationed at the Ramstein Air Force Base, Whitney Pratt has lived an extraordinary life. At three, Pratt moved to Oslo Norway; two years later, she moved to Stavanger (on the opposite Norwegian coast). After Stavanger (where her dad worked for NATO), she moved to Las Vegas, Nevada, then finally, to Mitchell, South Dakota. Initially, Pratt was home schooled, but upon entering sixth grade, she entered the Mitchell Public School system. “I hated it with my whole heart. I wasn’t a fan of having a structured day,” said Pratt. Lucky for Pratt, the “typical” educational experience didn’t last long. Her senior year, Pratt was a foreign exchange student in Sweden, studying math and science at Uddevalla Gymnaseiskola.
When asked why she picked Augsburg, Pratt said, “I originally didn’t want to look at Augsburg, but my mom convinced me too. So I visited campus, and I instantly knew I wanted to come here. I liked Coach Pohtilla, and Brenda [Hemmingsen] really made me feel at home. I felt comfortable.”
Now a third-year Economics major in the Honors Program, Pratt is most heavily involved in the Reserve Officer Training Corps (better known as the ROTC). Her first and second years were spent in the GMC, or General Military Course, learning the proper ways to wear her uniform and appropriate methods of communication within the armed services: “It was basically an introduction to the Air Force, along with a course on history,” said Pratt. The summer after her sophomore year, Pratt attended field training, which she describes as “a lot of yelling and screaming. It’s an evaluation of how well you can lead and follow under pressure.” Now, Pratt leads as a “Flight Commander,” helping first and second-year cadets learn the ropes. When she graduates, Pratt hopes to attend undergraduate pilot training to fly fighter jets. If her application is accepted, and she completes her training, she’ll be required to devote another ten years of her life to the armed services as a pilot—preferably, as Pratt explained, working with NATO. “After I graduate [from Augsburg], my first vacation might not be a vacation,” Pratt said. But she assured me it was what she wants to do. “Once you have military in your blood, it’s really hard to get it out of you…you get the ‘three-year itch…’”
Pratt, after discussing her personal experiences with the ROTC, wanted to debunk some misconceptions about the military: “We’re not war-mongers. I’m not in it to go to war. We do a lot of infrastructure-building, setting up clean water sources…We believe we should leave a place cleaner than it was when we arrived. The military is not a political machine. It’s not left-wing or right-wing—we’re neutral that way.”
Pratt’s advice for Auggies included: “Work hard and follow your dreams. I know that’s what a lot of people say, but I mean it. There’s nothing you can’t do if you put your mind to it.”
Obviously, Pratt has had no trouble doing just that.

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