Army future awaits Cranston native

Posted 6/5/24

Special to the Herald

For lifelong Cranston resident Genesis Aldana, being involved and a part of a community were at the top of her list of priorities.

“I was heavily involved in …

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Army future awaits Cranston native


Special to the Herald

For lifelong Cranston resident Genesis Aldana, being involved and a part of a community were at the top of her list of priorities.

“I was heavily involved in school,” she said. “From kindergarten, when I was a ‘soldier’ in our end-of-the-year ‘Stone Soup’ play with Mrs. White, to the head of the dance club in Dutemple, I was always doing something. Once I got to Cranston East, I was a JROTC cadet, senior class president, a Cranston Police Explorer, and the Best Buddies Chapter President.”

Aldana was part of the Class of 2020 that was unable to have a traditional graduation ceremony from Crasnton High School East.

Due to her exemplary time in ROTC, the organization offered her a two-year scholarship to pay for college.

“In my senior year of college, I also had the opportunity to be the Battalion Commander,” she said. “With all the multitasking, I was still able to graduate college with a 3.9 GPA and a Distinguished Honor Graduate in the ROTC program, being one of the top 10% ROTC cadets out of the country for my excellent performance.”

She attended Rhode Island College (RIC) where she majored in World Language Education with a concentration in Spanish, and a minor in Latin American Studies.

“I completed my student teaching at Smithfield High School and Nathan Bishop Middle School,” she said. “While doing all of this, I was also part of the ROTC program hosted at Providence College to become a 2LT (second lieutenant).”

Fast-forward four years later, she is now a Spanish teacher and a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army.

“Although I am satisfied with the opportunity of completing two careers, I did face some hardships: submitting lesson plans while I was out in the woods training with the ROTC program, or having to take four summer classes every year to finish my bachelor’s by 2024,” she said. “Or, finishing up Physical Training with ROTC at 0730 (7:30 a.m.) and having to be at my student teaching location by 0800 (8 a.m.).”

As a second lieutenant, she has branched (assigned to the) Adjutant General with a detail in Armor. She will be starting her four-year active duty time by heading off to Armor Basic Officer Leader Course (BOLC) in July in Fort Moore, Georgia for four months to learn how to lead future soldiers.

“From there, I will be assigned my first duty station, where I will be a Platoon Leader,” Aldana said. “While being active duty, I hope to continue my education by getting my Master’s degree. I also hope to get married and have children at some point. Once I finish my time on active duty, I hope to come back to little Rhody and be a Cranston Public School Teacher.”

Aldana is extremely proud of her time spent in her beloved Cranston.

“All the morals/character I have developed and the decisions I have made — I owe it to Cranston,” she said. “This city has led me to mentors and educators that have truly changed my life. Like Mrs. Benros — I remember being in her Spanish class while at Cranston East and something about the way she thought and how well she had her classroom decorated led me to think that I had the potential to be doing what she was doing.”

She also gives kudos to another instructor at East.

“LTC (R) Murray — my JROTC instructor,” she recalls. “I had numerous … meaningful conversations with him but one that I will never forget is me leaning on the door of his office one day during senior year while I was going in between joining the military or not and telling him how I did not think I would be good enough to be an officer in the Army, and he responded with ‘All you need is this (pointed at his heart) Genesis and you have this.’”

Cranston Police Officer Sgt. Gregg Weller has also been a significant mentor for Aldana, for all the relationships he has opened for  her, including LTC (R) Manning, who introduced her to the ROTC program at Providence College.

“As a developing leader, while being in the ROTC program, I met significant leaders to help me form my leadership identity, (Capt.) Walason, one of the cadre instructors in the ROTC program, helped me understand what it means to be a female leader,” she said. “She taught me to never stray away from using my voice when something needs to be said. My instructor, LTC (Lt. Col.) Kneib, gave me a foundation with skills and work ethic habits that I will always go back to during my Army career.”

She realizes how lucky she is to have a real graduation ceremony this time around.

“It felt very nostalgic,” she said. “In a way, while being at that RIC graduation, I felt like I was also closing out my chapter at Cranston East. Life seemed so dark during senior year of high school, it was so nice to finally be able to celebrate the way it’s meant to be.”

Now, standing as a first generation, Hispanic-female, second lieutenant in the U.S. Army, she acknowledged how much she owes to her parents.

“They have been with me in every step during these past four years,” she said proudly. “Through the laughing and the crying on the couch, or picking me up after a four-day weekend in the field, they were always there. Their last name, ‘ALDANA,’ deserves to be worn on the left side of my uniform every day.”

army, service


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