Of the several hundred students at the University of North Georgia that choose to get up every morning and put on the uniform of a United States soldier, only a fraction of those are female.
In 1974, the first female cadets enrolled at the university. During the first several years, women were placed in Foxtrot Platoon, an all-female unit attached to the Boar’s Head Brigade.
Over the years, females have slowly been integrated into the once all-male companies and specialty units. However, there is still integrating to be done.
In an attempt to aid this effort cadet Sgt. 1st Class Addyson Albershardt, a sophomore sociology major, presented an idea to the staff at the Military Leadership Center late last semester. Her idea was to begin a mentorship program for the women of the Corps of Cadets that would develop leadership among females and provide additional opportunities for training.
The group meets twice a week, once on Tuesdays for tactical training led by cadet 1st Lt. Alexis Salvanera, and on Thursdays for a relaxed meeting to discuss relevant issues.
Each week, a sophomore member chooses a topic to discuss during the group’s Thursday meeting session. Last week cadet Sgt. 1st Class Emily Lockridge discussed appearance ideals, positive ways for women to view themselves and ultimately change societal norms.
The members of the group hope to give everyone the opportunity to grow through leadership, regardless of academic class.
The Female Mentorship Program’s mission statement speaks to the group’s overall goal: “Improving gender integration in the Corps of Cadets by encouraging confidence in females in physical fitness, tactical skills, and leadership development.”
As a chaplain in Delta Company, Albershardt observed that many of the women she saw struggled with confidence issues, something she hopes to remedy through this program.
Before presenting her proposal to the professors of military science at the MLC, Albershardt did extensive research into the history of the university to determine male to female ratios among cadets over the past several years. She discovered that from 1995 to 2014 only 104 females commissioned as officers into the various branches of the United States military.
She also found that very few females try out for positions in specialty units. Over half of the females in the Corps did not try out for these units in the fall of 2015.
There are currently six females on the Ranger Challenge Team (Albershardt being one of them), one in the Aggressor Platoon and two in the Color Guard. According to the statistics Albershardt put together, only nine out of 110 females in the Corps are participating in specialty units.
Albershardt said that when she leaves UNG she would like to see the program continue, but that ideally, the program would no longer be necessary.
Albershardt and the women of the Female Mentorship Program are paving the way for the women who will come after them, making the process of the full integration of women into the Corps of Cadets smoother and more concrete.
This disciplined group of young women is dedicated to giving their best to the Corps they so love while leaving behind a legacy of support and undeniable strength.