Student cadet serves double duty

Thursday, December 19th, 2019

by Kristen Lansing

When the early morning light just began to peek through the windows of Lambert Fieldhouse, Ryann Laky stood at attention in her crisply ironed Army ROTC fatigues, thinking to herself, “This is my duty station; this is where I’m supposed to be.”

Laky wakes up every morning at 0430, goes to ROTC physical training workouts until 0730, sits through four to five hours of classes, then works at one of her two jobs until 2000.

She is never late, only early. She is the queen of time management. Most full-time Purdue students keep plenty busy by taking 15 credits each semester. Laky clocked 18 this semester and 21 last semester.

“In my calendar, I keep everything super strict,” said Laky, a junior food science major from Toledo, Ohio. “So, if it ends at this time, it ends at this time. That’s just it.”

Laky said she developed this rigid time management mindset when she enlisted in the Indiana Army National Guard.

She’s now contracted into Purdue ROTC, or Reserve Officer Training Corps, which is a program offered at more than 1,500 universities in the United States. Its purpose is to prepare college students for military careers after graduation. The military pays each ROTC cadet’s tuition.

This tuition assistance was exactly why Laky enlisted. She needed a way to pay for school. The National Guard Supplemental Grant pays for her tuition and gets her in-state tuition. Her ROTC scholarship covers her housing expenses. For all of her other expenses, she works her two jobs.

“I enlisted, mainly, because I needed a way to pay for school,” Laky said. “Especially being out-of-state, not only does it cover my tuition in full, but it gets me in-state tuition.”

Ironically, you can blame the military for the one time Laky was late. Her original plan was to earn her Purdue degree this year, but Army National Guard training delayed that.

“At first, I was worried about graduating a year later that I had expected,” Laky said. “But realized the value I’m getting, not only from saving money, but also from my time in the military.”

Ryann Laky
Photo by Kristen Lansing
Ryann Laky takes a moment to adjust her watch inside the Armory building on Purdue’s West Lafayette campus. The junior food science major from Toledo, Ohio, enlisted in the Indiana Army National Guard and is part of the Purdue Army ROTC program.

After graduation, Laky will serve in the Army National Guard for at least six years. Because she will be a commissioned officer, she must know the doctrines, history, and the standards of the Army and communicate these to non-commissioned officers (NCOs), who are responsible for enforcing them.

Until then, Laky continues to study food science. She said she is particularly interested in the biology of food, food genetics, and the nutritional value of food. As a food scientist, Laky hopes to contribute to a humanitarian effort to establish food security through food preservation, nutritional additives, or food transportation.

She’s been searching for her niche in the food industry, and after attending an industry conference, Laky is confident she’s found it. She plans to pursue a career as a food scientist in the confectionery industry after military service.

Confectionery is the art of making candy and sweets. Laky said she hopes to work in research and development for a major company, complete her MBA, and then join the management team of a confectionery company.

Purdue University and its ROTC cadet program gave Laky the tools to realize her dreams. They will become her reality, all in due time.

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Purdue Food Science




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