Last Updated: June 24th, 2024By


The stories of Cadet Angelica Strange and Cadet Olga Monzon echo through the corridors of Advanced Camp, resonating with determination, resilience, and a profound sense of duty to their families. These women, first-generation college students and military service members, have chosen paths that are as challenging as they are inspiring, all in the name of love and legacy.

Cadet Angelica Strange, from Columbus State University and currently with the 1st Regiment, Advanced Camp, recently completed the hand grenade assault course. Strange’s journey began ten years ago, driven by a desire to provide a better life for her daughter, born when Strange was just 18.

“I joined the military mostly for my daughter,” said Strange. “My life was not doing well and I just had very bad circumstances that would have led me nowhere fast, so one day, out of the spur of the moment, I was tired of living that life. I didn’t want that life for me or my daughter and decided to go to the recruitment station. Ten years later, I am still in and I decided to change my course from enlisted to officer, wanting to make an impact in the military.”

Strange is part of the Green to Gold program, attending Columbus State University, where she praises the ROTC program for its support and structure. Reflecting on her experience, she said, “ The military, it is perceived as a male-dominant force, which it is. However, the military allows you to be in leadership positions regardless of gender and pushes you to your limits, making you do things you’d never thought you could do.”

Strange leaves a heartfelt message for her daughter: “I want my daughter to know that I love her and that girls rock! I want her to know that women can do anything that they put their mind to, including the military. So keep driving for excellence and you too can accomplish greatness.”

Her journey has not only changed her life but also set a new standard for her family. “I am first-generation military and college. My family didn’t come from the best circumstances, lacking the resources and being in an underprivileged community. I really wanted to change that for the family, to change the culture for future generations.”

“Cadet Strange has been a positive source of motivation and encouragement throughout the entire time we have been here,” said Capt. Frederick Taul, Assistant Professor of Military Science at Auburn University. “Her prior experience benefits the platoon, and she is always looking to better those around her.”

Similarly, Cadet Olga Monzon from Virginia State University draws her strength from her mother’s sacrifices.

“Everything I do, I do it for my mother,” said Monzon. “All she ever wanted was for me to have a successful life. She sacrificed everything for me to be here, and I want to now help her.”

Born and raised in Guatemala, Monzon immigrated to the United States at 14, overcoming language barriers and cultural shifts. Now, as a first-generation college student and military member, she is pursuing a major in criminal justice with minors in Spanish and military science, aiming to branch into the Adjutant General Corps.

“My mother was left behind, and my father had to come to the United States,” said Monzon. “The reason I joined the military was to help my mother. She made so many sacrifices for me, so I want to give her a better life.” She is actively seeking military parole to bring her mother to the United States and reunite her family.

Monzon leaves this message for her mother: “Thank you for all the sacrifices you made for me. I never take them for granted. You are my hero, and I hope I am making you proud. I know coming from a third-world country, life is not easy, but one day I will help make your life easy. I love you.”

“Cadet Monzon is another great asset to the platoon,” said Taul. “She is amazing at stepping back and analyzing problems, coming up with solutions, and helping in whatever way she can.”

Both cadets embody the spirit of change and resilience. “My goals as an officer are to help change the military culture,” said Monzon. “Being a woman from an ethnic background in the enlisted world is hard, but as an officer and leading by example, I feel like I will have the power to help bring change. I want to inspire the next generation of soldiers, both officers and enlisted, to do better.”

In a message to other women aspiring to join the military, Monzon added, “Una cosa que les diría a las mujeres que van a entrar en el militar es que pueden hacerlo, no dejen que nada les impida hacer realidad sus sueños.”

[“One thing I would say to women who are going into the military is that you can do it, don’t let anything stop you from making your dreams come true.” – Translated with Google, verified by bilingual Soldier].

The stories of Cadet Strange and Cadet Monzon are a testament to the power of determination, the strength of family bonds, and the transformative impact of military service. For her—these words capture the essence of their journeys, each step taken with love and purpose.

About the Author: Victor Mejia-Jeronimo