Drew: So first of all, are any of your family military?
Olan: The last person in my family was my great grandpa, so like three generations removed. But since then, no one really in my direct lineage served in the military in any capacity. I have extended family members, like second uncles who have been in the navy, but no one’s been like explicitly in the army and been deployed. So yeah.
Drew: So what led you to your decision to join the army?
Olan: So it wasn’t until my senior year in high school did I realize I was going to go into the army in any capacity. It was mainly after the James Foley incident in August of my senior year whenever he got killed. It was kind of like a calling for me to do something along the lines of public service. By this point already knew I was going to OU. But I wanted to serve those people who I respected, like humanitarian aid workers, similar to journalists. They oftentimes just shine light on the darkness in the world.
Drew: So there are parallels for you between journalism and enlisting?
Olan: Yeah. And at the time I never knew I was actually going to be a journalist or even become a journalist major. It was mainly like in terms of, like, how firefighters respect police officers and police officers respect firefighters. It was the same way for me. Someday I’ll probably get deployed to go to Iraq and Afghanistan, and I’ll look at journalists the same way you would look at somebody who’s a police officer versus a firefighter.
Drew: Have you gone through basic training?
Olan: Yes. I enlisted right out of high school. But a year after enlisting, that was whenever I started school at OU. And my ROTC contract is superior to my enlistment contract. So that contract went null and void. I’m now obligated to meet the requirements of Cadet Command to become officer.
Drew: Will you have an active duty part of your life?
Olan: Not really, but yes as well. Where you’re working, you’re expected to be able to do something at 24 hours of the day, like anything could pop up at any time and you’re expected to train. Because whenever you’re training with the army, it’s around the clock. But since I’m becoming a reservist, the only time I’d ever go on active duty outside of training would be like, let’s say a deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan or the National Guard.
Drew: Can you talk a little bit about the time commitment that ROTC takes for kids who are in college?
Olan: Yeah. It’s definitely a time restraint. I would argue that you’ll spend more time doing ROTC than you’ll spend doing anything else combined. It’s a major commitment in the morning, because you have physical training on Monday, Wednesday, Friday. If you don’t meet the minimum score on the physical fitness test, you have to come in for PT on Tuesdays and Thursdays, as well. So then it becomes a five day commitment. That runs from 6 – 7 in the morning. But like everything in the army, you’re expected to be there 15 minutes early. So often times you’re there at least by 5:35. And then you have class on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and you have lab later Thursday afternoon, and those are an hour to an hour and a half.
Drew: You’ve said before that you don’t want to be a journalist. Tell me why.
Olan: Um, I enjoy journalism. I respect journalists. It’s the whole reason why I ended up getting into the army. It’s something that fascinates me, something I love, but I would say it’s not something I would be fulfilled and be happy with doing for a lifetime. Whereas that call to public service that I mentioned at the very beginning, it was definitely more along the lines of something I would love doing. There’s something about helping other people that’s satisfying to me. So like, I could never even see myself working in private sector. Even if my aim at a higher federal agency falls through, my fallback is a police officer or firefighter while also serving in the reserves.
Drew: So that’s kind of what you would use to satisfy that want to serve the public, even if you don’t get the top position at the CIA?
Olan: Yeah, because like, you know, I’ve been looking at the CIA. I’ve also been looking at the FBI. But yeah, being either a firefighter and potentially even like a police officer. My cousin, he’s a firefighter and it’s literally one of those jobs where like every single day you can think back and name the individual people who you helped. Often times people forget that firefighters, they’re not just putting out flames.