FMU student considers deployment to Afghanistan


ROTC Private Ulyicsni is a freshman majoring in mathematics at FMU. She may be deployed to Afghanistan by Dec. 6, 2011.

Marina D'Souza, Photographer

Polishing a diamond makes it shine brighter, perfecting an instrument allows tuneful notes to resound and, in the same fashion, chiseling human characteristics brings out the best in an individual and makes them excel brilliantly. Leadership, loyalty, personal courage, respect, integrity and honor are superior traits that define a warrior and demarcate them above the rest.

Joining the Army is not for the weak at heart. It requires inner strength and mental independence. As a young girl, Alexandria Lauren Ulyicsni, who is now ranked as a Private in the Army ROTC program at Francis Marion, clearly understood the essence of what the military stands for.

“I was definitely naive when I walked into the military,” Ulyicsni said. “It just hit me all at once; I didn’t expect any of it. My very first experience was scary because people were getting in my face and talking down at me, but that’s the way are. They wanted to see if I gave up. Well, I stuck it out because I knew I could do it. I wanted to prove them wrong.”

There were moments when Ulyicsni felt like leaving the army because it was too hard for her to handle the roughness all at once. Regardless of the situation, she knew that the authorities were training her mind to become tough. She said that it was all part of a mind game of whether or not she could handle military life. Ultimately, she discovered that she was where she wanted to be and that she had the will and the passion to become a soldier.

“I used to be called Barbie; I was submissive, had no backbone and I depended on other people if something happened,” Ulyicsni said. “After I joined the army at age 17, it taught me to become a stronger person, helped me gain confidence; it brought out leadership qualities, made me see myself as more respectable, and I was able to move up the chain of command.”

While in the Army, emotional attachments have no room because they are what make the human being. The army strips out poignant feelings breaks down both physical comfort and mental preconceptions.

“They break you down,” Ulyicsni said. “They break you down into nothing and then, they mold you and build you up with confidence and make you the soldier they want you to be; a soldier to serve the country.”

Last month, Oct. 13 marked a triumphant moment in Ulyicsni’s journey in army life; she was the only girl to pass her Physical Training (PT) test against 60 others. She said that only 11 passed, but she maxed out against them all. It was at that time that she believed in herself and believed that anything is possible and anything can be accomplished. She added that it is in trying that there is success; the key factor is to try.

Ulyicsni enjoys live comedy, loves to travel, plays the piano and fancies singing. Some of the places she has traveled include Russia, Germany, France, Italy, most of Europe and many islands. Also, she is a freshman at Francis Marion pursuing a mathematics degree and soon wishes to further pursue her doctorate in applied mathematics.

“I love math,” she said. “I want to be a statistician. It’s good that I like numbers because it can help me even outside school; it can help me with my finances and budgeting as well.”

Though Ulyicsni has traveled to several parts of the world, she finds it overwhelming when it comes to being deployed to the Middle East.

“I’m absolutely nervous about leaving the States,” Ulyicsni said. “It’s going to be a huge test for me, both physically and mentally. But, still, I have set my mind on being deployed to Afghanistan by December 6, 2011. The Middle East is a different world. With every passing day I am becoming so much stronger, and I know that when I return from there, I will be able to achieve anything and everything – all my dreams and aspirations. Sometimes, you need to get out of your comfort zone.”

LtC. Steve Libenrood from the Francis Marion ROTC approved of Ulyicsni’s commitment in the army and said that she is ready to become an officer.

“Ulyicsni seems to be highly motivated,” Libenrood said. “She’s really smart and has all the makings. She has a lot of heart.”

Furthermore, Ulyicsni emphasized that she was inspired by one person who she cannot forget.

“Capt. Emily Lynds from the Francis Marion ROTC played a big role in how I was able to succeed,” Ulyicsni said. “I was inspired because she was a girl as well. I looked up to her and she encouraged me to run. She has traveled to places like Iraq and Baghdad. If she could get through tough times and military life, I can too.”

Finding a sense of balance in civil life and army life can be challenging because the boundaries of both tend to blur. On the one hand, sacrifice and service are prolific to a point where the person becomes selfless and even self-sacrificing for the sake of the other. And, on the other hand, the person holds on to the loved ones that revolve around them.

“It is heartbreaking to balance myself out between both worlds,” Ulyicsni said. “Like, now, it will be hard for my family to see their baby go, especially to a foreign land, but they’re really supportive. They are the ones that will get me through while I’m so far away. What matters is what you’re coming back to – family and loved ones. Their support goes a long way.”

Family and loved ones can get a person through only so far, but for Ulyicsni, there is someone who has always been with her, someone whom she holds close to her heart more than anyone else.

“It was God who got me through it all,” she emphasized. “Without Him, I could not have been the person I am becoming. That’s where I get my strength from. I believe in the Bible verse ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.'”