In this interview, Miranda Summers Lowe, MA class of 2009, talks about her decision to enlist in the Army, her service, and her time as a veteran at Brown University.
Summers Lowe begins by sharing some personal background information about her childhood. She explains having to move around for her parents’ careers as college professors and also remembers her mother passing away when she was fifteen. Additionally, she discusses participating in Civil Air Patrol, the civilian auxiliary of the Air Force, and her resistance to pursuing college after graduating from high school due to a lifelong interest in military service.
Summers Lowe did go on to college and talks about deciding to attend George Washington University. She recalls the events of September 11, 2001, occurring shortly after she arrived on campus and describes hearing about the planes hitting the World Trade Centers as well as seeing smoke from the Pentagon. She details leaving class early due to the chaos outside which resulted from several bridges in the DC area closing and campus buildings being used as evacuation spaces for local government workers. Summers Lowe describes this as the moment when she knew it was time to leave George Washington University and enlist in the Army.
She details the process of joining the Army National Guard and shares memories of her time at boot camp. Summers Lowe talks about earning her bachelor’s degree in History and Government from the College of William and Mary while also serving in the Guard as a Unit Supply Specialist. She notes that she joined a sorority and ROTC while she was on campus. She describes getting her orders to deploy to Iraq just six weeks before graduation, completing her coursework, and fitting in time to take the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) prior to leaving.
Summers Lowe talks about becoming a Black Hawk Helicopter Door Gunner during her deployment. She also explains some of the challenges she faced in applying for graduate programs while deployed due to the lack of flexibility in graduate school testing and application requirements for members of the military. Nevertheless, she details why she was attracted to Brown University and how they worked with her through the application process while she was in Iraq.
In talking about her time at Brown, Summers Lowe discusses the difficult transition from life during deployment in Iraq to life in a graduate program in Providence. She notes the variety of feelings she had about integrating into a cohort that had never served in the military or deployed, but also recalls finding a group of veteran students on campus. She explains that together they helped the University learn how to work with incoming veteran students and founded the Student Veteran Association.
In closing, she describes some of the stigma attached to those who served in Iraq and compares it to those who served in Vietnam. She also shares about the day United States troops were pulled out of Afghanistan in 2021, explaining that while extremely difficult, she and many of the friends she served with felt that they finally got the closure they needed.