Humans of RV: Melanie Jimenez

The VMI-bound senior shares her application process and some advice to any potential future recruits


Andre Dominic Faigal, Student Life Writer

The Humans of RV project is a weekly column based on Brandon Stanton’s seminal “Humans of New York” project, which seeks to “catalog the city’s inhabitants” through photography and brief interviews. RV seeks to expand on this project with our own “cataloging” of RV students and an examination into all the unique perspectives here at school. 

Note: this transcript has been edited and condensed for publication purposes.


In the future, I plan to attend the Virginia Military Institute where I will be majoring in Biology with a minor in Spanish. What attracted me most to the institute was the school’s motto, “Don’t Do Ordinary.” When I started to research colleges, I saw a lot of common factors, suggesting that each school was basically the same. In college, I would attend class, practice for my sport, then have the rest of the day off. That schedule did not seem to interest me very much. I came across VMI and immediately realized the school was not like any other. The over-packed schedule and core values the school offered was what first called me to attend VMI and I immediately knew I would thrive with such a rigorous schedule.

What mainly inspired me to pursue a military career was my family. My brother enlisted straight out of high school and is currently serving as a Master at Arms in the Navy. A Master at Arms is essentially a security professional for the Navy. As I attended my brother’s graduation ceremony after basic training, I knew that I could be successful in the tedious military lifestyle. I originally planned to enlist, like my brother, then go to college, but that plan quickly changed when I saw that my brother had no time to attend college while he was working 12 hour shifts. Therefore, I started to look into the direction of attending college first, then commissioning into the military.

My acceptance into VMI was also complemented with a scholarship. I was fortunate enough to receive an ROTC [Reserve Officers’ Training Corps] scholarship, which is a commitment between the student and the branch that the scholarship is being offered from. In my case, I was offered a scholarship from the Army. My commitment with the Army will pay for three years of my college for either tuition or dormitories and board as well. Additionally, I get a monthly stipend of a set amount of money and an allowance for books and supplies.

[When I applied to college] for the Army, I was required to do a timed one mile run, as many push ups as possible in one minute and as many sit ups as possible in one minute. Applicants will need to do an interview with the PMS [Professor of Military Service] at their desired school of attendance.  A PMS is a job title given to an officer who will conduct interviews and handle the ROTC programs needs. 

COVID-19 made the application process very different from most years. When attempting to schedule my Physical Fitness Test with my coach, we kept having to reschedule because of school closure or quarantining. This setback resulted in my application being submitted a week before the deadline. Also, the interview process during COVID-19 was different from years prior. Instead of traveling to Virginia to be interviewed, I was able to do my interview virtually via Zoom. This made it easier for me to give responses without feeling the pressure of being in the same room as the PMS. Ultimately, COVID-19 did change the application process however for the better when it came to the interview. 

To anyone who wants to pursue a life in the military, my main advice would be to start planning early. College decision dates, scholarship dates and even physical test dates come up very quickly. Whether that means getting involved now in clubs and sports to build your resume or starting to go to the gym and working out in order to pass your physical fitness test, start early. Time management is one of the key qualities needed in order to be successful in the military. I would say plan ahead, it’s never too early to start preparing.