Published: May 4, 2016
Bridgette Zuckerman

Bridgette Zuckerman never planned to join the Army. She grew up in an Army family and graduated from high school in Colorado Springs. Her mom and dad both enlisted and, by the time Zuckerman was starting college, her sister Briana (15’IntPhys) was already a cadet in the ROTC program at CU-Boulder.

“It’s a very challenging program,” said Zuckerman. “I didn’t feel physically fit enough and it’s a huge time commitment.”

But family tradition won out. Briana convinced Bridgette to give it a shot.

“I never expected to join, but I’ve grown to really like it," she said. "If I’d never done ROTC, I don’t think I would be as strong—not physically, but really mentally tough.”

Once she joined, the Zuckerman sisters quickly became known as “Big Z” and “Little Z,” the first pair of sisters in CU-Boulder’s ROTC history.

“She’s really good at giving me advice about the Army,” said Zuckerman. “She’s a mentor that I have built into my family. She’s already been through it all.”

Zuckerman followed her sister’s recommendation and participated in a Cultural Understanding and Language Proficiency (CULP) program the summer between her sophomore and junior year. A highlight of her ROTC experience, Zuckerman lived in Manila for a month and trained with Filipino ROTC cadets, while learning about the history of the area.

“We got to see the Bataan Memorial,” said Zuckerman. “I had more of an appreciation for it because I know a lot of people through ROTC who have done the Bataan Death March. That was a really eye-opening experience.”

Participating in ROTC helped Zuckerman with time management, discipline and resilience, she said. It also helped her learn how to take initiative.

“I recently witnessed her run a rifle range,” said Lt. Col. Aaron Roof, professor of military science at CU-Boulder. “She was standing in front of about 75 cadets from various programs very clearly and confidently giving instructions. It was impressive. She has matured and developed great self-confidence, while maintaining her independent spirit. I couldn’t be more proud of a graduating cadet.”

Zuckerman studied molecular, cellular and developmental biology. She branched Medical Service Corps for the Army Reserves and will attend Basic Officer Leadership Course (BOLC) this August to receive training specific to the medical field.

“I’m really excited for Med Services BOLC,” she said. “Up until then, in ROTC, I’ve been learning the basics. When I go to BOLC, it’ll be more specific to my branch.”

Before she heads to BOLC, Zuckerman will complete EMT school at Saint Anthony’s Hospital in the Denver area. She plans to work as an EMT while she is in the Army Reserves, and, later, apply to physician assistant school.

“She will be a leader in and out of the Army,” said Lt. Col. Roof. “She is certainly not the stereotypical Army person, but the Army will be much better off for her service.”

Zuckerman will be commissioned a 2nd lieutenant on Saturday, May 7, at 2 p.m., in the Old Main Chapel. She will be the fourth in her family of four to join the Army.