When Mackenzie Mollohan was 14 years old, she joined the Civilian Air Patrol, a non-profit corporation that serves as an official civilian reserve for the United States Air Force.
She’s wanted to be a military pilot ever since.
“I always thought being an airline pilot was super boring,” Mollohan said with a laugh. “I really just wanted something that was more exciting and service related. Flying and being in the military was just a natural progression for me.”
Specifically, Mollohan wants to fly blackhawk helicopters as a medevac pilot.
“The medevac pilots are the only ones that typically land close to the battlefield and extract people out. Not just American soldiers, but anyone who's hurt. That's the American way,” Mollohan said. “If someone's hurting in any country, anywhere in the world, the Army has helicopters to bring in and to get them off the battlefield. I can't wait to get to do that”
ASU Army ROTC and the Simultaneous Membership Program
Working towards this goal, Mollohan is studying aviation management and human factors as a graduate student at ASU. She is simultaneously a cadet in ASU’s Army ROTC program.
Mollohan is not an average cadet, however. She is cadet battalion commander, the top cadet leadership position in the Army ROTC program. As battalion commander, Mollohan is tasked with overseeing nearly 150 cadets as they train, conduct exercises and attend classes together.
“My job is to lead the battalion, to make decisions, to be creative and to think about why we are doing things and how we can do them better on a big level,” Mollohan said.
Additionally, Mollohan is enlisted in the Army National Guard.
“The Guard is an opportunity for me to get a little bit of a taste of what the real Army is like,” Mollohan said. “So, I am a legit member of the military, I get paid, and then I get to do ROTC and take my grad classes.”
Mollohan is able to juggle all of these roles – graduate student, ROTC battalion commander and National Guard cadet – through ASU’s Simultaneous Membership Program (SMP).
The SMP allows students to serve concurrently in their National Guard or Army Reserve unit and their ASU ROTC unit, drawing benefits from both.
Women in the Army
When she first joined her unit in the National Guard, Mollohan was the only woman.
“That was a different, and unique experience, being the only girl,” Mollohan said.
As ROTC battalion commander, Mollohan says it’s “fun” being a woman in such a high leadership role.
“None of the cadets have ever had a female battalion commander,” Mollhan said. “So it’s kind of fun and exciting to be the first for my group.”
ASU has one of the highest percentages of female ROTC cadets in the country.
“We’re 22% female in the cadet battalion. The average is usually 5 to 10% in most ROTC programs around the country,” said Dallas Eubanks, recruiting operations officer in ASU’s Department of Military Sciences. “We're actually at a higher percentage than even the Army itself so we're very proud of that.”
Mollohan said she is not worried about being a woman in the Army, especially in Army aviation where there are few women.
“Ultimately, the same opportunities should be for everyone,” she said. “I think the Army is actually leading the way for women and equality and it’s great to be a part of that.”
Salute to Service
Mollohan said that she would want to be in the military even if she wasn’t a pilot; serving has always been her dream.
“The American military wants to serve and help everyone. That’s just what America does. We don’t just help our country, but other countries as well for the good of everyone,” Mollohan said. “America is just a light and it feels really good to be part of that, especially knowing my mission will be medevac and I'll be there to help anyone that needs help.”
Each year, ASU honors veterans and active service members during November as part of the university’s Salute to Service tradition.
The Graduate College is proud to honor Mollohan as both a graduate student and service member. We thank her for her service to our school and nation.