Antrim woman makes ROTC history at Columbia University
By MEGHAN PIERCE
Union Leader Correspondent | May 20. 2014 10:22PM
ConVal High School graduate Abigale Wyatt, foreground, is the first Naval ROTC cadet to earn a commission at Columbia University since the program was reinstated after more than 40 years. (FROM VIDEO COURTESY OF COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY)
Today, 26-year-old Abigale Wyatt is set to receive her bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Columbia’s School of General Studies. On Thursday she will be commissioned as an ensign in the U.S. Navy, the first Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps graduate from Columbia since 1973, and the program’s first-ever female graduate.
Wyatt served 3 1/2 years in the Navy before coming to Columbia in 2012 in a program for enlisted sailors called Seaman to Admiral for the 21st Century.
Wyatt grew up in Merrimack and then in Antrim. She graduated early from ConVal High School in Peterborough and jumped right into classes at the University of Massachusetts, according to her mother, Jane Wyatt of Antrim. Then she dropped out, moved to Arizona, came back, and couch-surfed, her mother said.
In 2008, Abigale Wyatt was working for the Boston Duck Tours when she came home one day and announced she was joining the Navy. Jane Wyatt said the news surprised her, even though Wyatt’s dad, William Wyatt, was a Navy veteran.
“At the time I had been moving around a lot. I never had a job for more than a few months,” she said. “So, yeah, it was a surprise to everyone else, but for me it was the next challenge. I was missing something, and the Navy filled that void.”
“I actually thrived under the discipline ... It helps me direct my energy in a more positive way than I did before.”
ROTC units were booted off college campuses decades ago as anti-war sentiment raged in the early 1970s. Columbia ended its ROTC program in 1973, but Wyatt was able to take advantage of the university re-launching the program.