Closer to my dreams
From Army brat to the nation's No. 3 Army ROTC cadet, Patrick Brito talks about the importance of putting forward your best effort.
Growing up as an Army brat was tough.
I was the person who no one ever really got to know because just as soon as “the new kid” label wore off, I was on to the next school to start over again. I had to move with my family all over the country, always readjusting to new places, meeting new people and experiencing new cultures and perspectives.
Even though it was difficult having to leave a home just as I was getting used to it, I now appreciate all of the benefits of being an Army brat that weren’t so clear to me before.
I remember the inseparable bonds I made with other families I had known for only a few months and how we always ran into each other again even if I had moved across the nation. Most importantly, I remember the consistent support from my parents and how they focused on pushing me to reach my potential. Whether it was sports, academics, morals or even doing my weekend chores, they stressed the importance of always putting forth your best effort. I used to scowl at my parents and their insistence but my mom would always tell me, “You’ll thank me later. You have potential; use it.”
That statement, in conjunction with being an Army brat, molded me into who I am today: a top-three Army ROTC cadet — excited, anxious and scared for what my future might hold.
During my freshman year, I enrolled in Army ROTC with the Buckeye Battalion. I was not yet certain whether I would want to commit to the program. It involved waking up at 5 a.m., shaving my face every morning and high standards for academics and physical fitness. I was at THE Ohio State University, and I did not know anyone because, as usual, I came from a different state.
Despite my doubts and fears, I knew that being in the Army was my dream, so I arrived to “New Cadet Orientation” ready to face the challenges that lay ahead. I knew that I had to work harder and be stronger than the other cadets to my left and my right and put faith in those dreaded words of my mom and dad. I knew that this would require me to sacrifice so much more than my regular college friends. But I also knew that Ohio State had my back, I was going to make my parents proud and that it would be worth it.
Three years later I was a senior, waiting outside Lt. Col. Bunyak’s office with 30 of my brothers and sisters. I was waiting to find out if I had made it — if my hard work had paid off or if I would need to resort to a backup plan instead of pursuing my dream.
After waiting what felt like a century, I got the news that I had been hoping for.
I found out that my late nights at Thompson library, the early mornings at the RPAC and the late-night club meetings had all paid off. Not only did I find out I had a full-time job in the Army, but LTC Bunyak also told me I had ranked No. 3 of 5,574 cadets in the entire nation.
My chest filled with pride, my eyes filled up with tears and all I could do was smile, comforted by the fact that my future was set. I had made my university, my peers and my family so proud. My dreams were right in front of me, ready to be taken. I achieved the opportunity to be the man I always wanted to be, my parents knew I could be and the instructors at ROTC pushed me to be. I am going to be an active duty officer in the United States Army.
Now, I write to you, hoping to inspire incoming students and cadets. To prove that dreams do come true and that all it takes is hard work. Never forget why you are at THE Ohio State University, and know that there is always someone who wants your “No. 3” spot!