Memorial Day this year was special in more ways than one for Brenna Goodman, a third-generation service member who graduated from UND earlier this month as a newly commissioned second lieutenant through the Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program.
Her parents – Col. Robert Goodman and retired Col. Petra Goodman – traveled all the way from Vilseck, Germany, to Grand Forks to pin on her officer’s bars during the Army ROTC Commissioning ceremony on May 12, the day of spring commencement at the University.
Goodman, who hails from Woodbridge, Va., grew up in an Army family where Memorial Day was a routinely observed as an annual event.
“We lived on post quite a few years, so we would celebrate Memorial Day with other families,” she recalled. “When I was younger, I looked at the day as a special time to be together. As I’ve gotten older and I better understand my parents’ service to their country, Memorial Day means a lot more to me now.”
Goodman also has many relatives who served in the armed forces. Both her grandfathers were in the Army and one was a Vietnam War veteran. She has an uncle who served in the Special Forces and another who was in the Navy.
Goodman’s father is a healthcare administrator at the U.S. Army’s Bavaria medical and dental care treatment facilities in Vilseck. Her mother retired as an Army nurse practitioner, but continues to conduct medical research. She recently received an Army grant to study pain management for amputees.
During her time at UND, Goodman was named the outstanding senior in military science for 2012 and served as the Fighting Sioux Battalion’s executive officer. Relying on her experience in Civilian Marksmanship Program competitions, she captained the battalion’s air rifle team to a national championship, achieving the top overall score. She also participated in the Army’s grueling Ranger Buddy Competition and was a female winner.
It wasn’t a coincidence that Goodman ended up in North Dakota.
“I came to UND because my father’s side of the family is from North Dakota and it was the best option,” she related. “Everything fell into place. I was accepted right away and received a full scholarship.”
Goodman is following her parents into the Medical Service Corps and plans to pursue an Army career in healthcare management. Soon after Memorial Day, she leaves for Fort Lewis, Wash., to participate in the Leadership Development Assessment Course.
The Army’s merit list, issued after the five-week course, will determine if she’s placed in the branch of her choice. She is confident because UND’s ROTC cadets have a history of ranking high on the list.
After four years, how does Goodman view her decision to attend UND?
“I’ve loved it,” she exclaimed. “I actually love Grand Forks. I never lived anywhere longer than three years before I came here. I consider Grand Forks my hometown now.”
That will soon change as she embarks on her new career in the Army.
“Memorial Day will be one of the last times I can hang out with my friends,” she said. “I can say goodbye to everyone and appreciate the good times I’ve had in college.”