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Austin Peay State University ROTC student puts nursing school to practice at Walter Reed internship

Austin Peay State University - APSUClarksville, TN – Senior Michelle Demarais put what she’s learned at the Austin Peay State University (APSU) School of Nursing to practice this summer at one of the nation’s most well-known hospitals. 

Austin Peay State University nursing senior Michelle Demarais, third from right, poses with fellow students at Walter Reed. (APSU)
Austin Peay State University nursing senior Michelle Demarais, third from right, poses with fellow students at Walter Reed. (APSU)

As an Austin Peay State University ROTC student, she attended the Nurse Summer Training Program at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. 

“It was a phenomenal experience,” Demarais said. “We struggle every day (in class) trying to learn everything there is to learn about nursing. Going to this internship and job shadowing a nurse every day every shift for a month, you put together everything you read in the textbook. 

“You’re sitting in front of a patient and you’re able to do it,” she continued. “And you think, ‘Oh, that was way easier. How did I miss that test question? This makes sense now.’”

Demarais attended the Walter Reed program May 25th-June 25th.

“There’s really nothing like hands-on experiences to help you learn how to be a great nurse,” she said.

‘More than I could ever ask for’

Demarais’ nursing interest is in emergency medicine, and the program matched her with a Navy lieutenant working at Walter Reed’s emergency room. 

“I got to do everything he did, his exact schedule every single day,” she said. “It was getting to play grown-up Army for a month, and it got me really, really hyped on what it’s going to be like to be an Army nurse.” 

Demarais enjoys the unpredictability of emergency medicine.

“You could be working in one room helping someone with a sprained ankle and then the patient in the next room would be in need of serious live-saving support,” she said. “I loved the unpredictability, the chaos and the constant opportunities to learn about different aspects of nursing care.”

The nursing staff supported the students, allowing them to “watch it, practice it, do it,” Demarais said.

“Being able to work with incredible medical professionals on a daily basis and being in the D.C. area getting to explore the nation’s capital on days off was more than I could ever ask for,” she added.

‘The standard for others to follow’ 

Twelve APSU ROTC students – including the University’s first-ever cadet to go to the Jungle Warfare School in Hawaii – attended multiple training schools during the summer.

Austin Peay State University also sent its first cadet since 2006 to Army Mountain Warfare School in Vermont and the third and fourth cadets ever to U.S. Military Academy Cadet Summer Training at West Point, New York.

“Our cadets performed in an incredible manner this summer and helped our program remain one of the best in the country,” said Lt. Col. Eric A. Westphal, APSU’s professor of military science. “They are all amazing and truly set the standard for others to follow.” 

Here are the ROTC students who attended summer training:

  • Jakob Bertoni, history senior – Jungle Warfare School, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.
  • Braydon Donnell, sociology senior – Army Mountain Warfare School, Camp Jericho, Vermont.
  • Cherady Fine, chemistry sophomore, and Alden Marvin, criminal justice junior – Army Airborne School, Fort Benning, Georgia.
  • Michelle Phillippi, management junior, and Herman Thomas, criminal justice major – U.S. Military Academy Cadet Summer Training, West Point, New York.
  • Michelle Demarais, nursing senior – Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Bethesda, Maryland.
  • Ross Barber, computer information systems senior; Sarah Brekhus, criminal justice senior; Brandon Dickinson, history graduate student; and Jertil Robinson, computer information systems senior – Cadet Troop-Leading Training at various Army posts.
  • Liberal arts sophomore Jasmine Barrios, Dickinson and Robinson – Sabalauski Air Assault School, Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

“Each of them showed me and my team that they deserved the chance to go out there and kick some proverbial butt while representing not only our program but all of APSU and the surrounding community,” Westphal said. 

To Learn More 

For more about the Governors Guard ROTC at Austin Peay State University, visit apsu.edu/rotc.


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