A Gustie Giving Back in Multiple WaysHow Ethan Moudry '27 discovered ROTC and passions for foreign languages and service.
Posted on May 16th, 2024 by

Ethan Moudry '27 will travel to Latvia this summer to study Russian with Project GO.

A first-year Gustie has earned a coveted language scholarship to study Russian overseas this summer. Ethan Moudry ’27 will travel to Latvia this summer with Project GO! (Global Officer), a Department of Defense initiative “aimed at improving the language skills, regional expertise, and intercultural communication skills of future military officers.”

Ethan is a member (alongside multiple Gusties) of the Mankato-based Maverick Battalion Army ROTC, which he joined after arriving at Gustavus this past fall. The Farmington, MN native and Russian and Eastern European & Eurasian Studies major didn’t initially plan to go the ROTC route—he actually told his parents as a youngster that he had no intention of ever joining the military—but after learning about ROTC from his aunt and researching the program, he changed his mind. “I was looking into doing something service based because I had a really great childhood, and I’d like to give back, and this would be a way I could do it,” he said. “I’m physically capable [of what ROTC demands] and I just liked the idea of having a job based on protecting people by doing really cool and interesting work around things like security and intelligence.”

Once on campus, Ethan met some people affiliated with ROTC and attended presentations about the program, one of which was from a cadet who’d completed a Project GO assignment, which provides language and cultural training to ROTC students in support of Army, Air Force, and Navy ROTC programs, training future military leaders for national security and defense readiness positions. “I was planning on learning Russian in college already, so when I heard about Project GO, it sounded amazing,” said Ethan, who has studied with and been mentored by his Department’s director, Annalise Rivas. “You get to travel abroad and study new languages. So, I looked into applying, and it seemed great just to go somewhere else besides the Midwest.”

As an Army ROTC cadet, once he’s officially under contract, Ethan will accept scholarship money for his final three years of college in exchange for four years of active-duty service, and then four years of reserve service. “Technically, at this point, I’m not committed, and I can leave at any time. But I don’t believe in that mindset,” he said.

He’s already experiencing the discipline that’s an inherent part of ROTC and military life, albeit with a carve-out for his academic priorities. “They always push that school comes first, and your grades are really important in how they rank you and put you up for various opportunities,” Ethan said, adding that early morning training sessions have already helped his overall productivity. He takes a Military Science Leadership class once a week that will scale up in difficulty and time commitment over the next three years, along with Leadership Labs that apply classroom knowledge practically, in a team setting. “What they can do is teach you basic Army skills; what they can’t do is change your attitude,” Ethan said. “If you fail at something, that’s okay, we just keep failing forward. I think anyone could have success in the program if they wanted to.”

To that end, Ethan’s ROTC experience has created different types of bonds than conventional college friendships. “Even though I’m not yet in the military and haven’t been put in any life-threatening situations whatsoever, you still form a sort of brotherhood or sisterhood with the people you’re around, especially when you’re all giving it your best,” he said. “It physically sucks sometimes, but you embrace it, and when the people around you are pushing you, you form something different, a little bit more than a friendship. It’s crazy to have already experienced that a little bit, as someone who hasn’t even finished his first year of college, and then this summer I get to go overseas to learn Russian. So it’s been pretty sweet.”


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication Luc Hatlestad


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