McKenna Brown: Combining Nursing with The Army

By Kathryn Mulligan

If you’ve ever seen people in camouflage uniforms walking around campus, those are probably members of the Reserve Officer Training Corp (ROTC). The ROTC is a nationwide university-based scholarship program designed to prepare and train students to become officers in the United States army. While nursing and the ROTC may not seem to be a conventional match, the two compliment each other immensely. McKenna Brown is the perfect example of that.

McKenna Brown

“Ever since I was a little girl, I just completely admired and loved all the service members,” Kenna says. “I just looked up to them and wanted to be like them.” As her parents began to realize how passionate Kenna was about serving her country, they encouraged her to choose a good career path that she could use within the military.

While earning money for her mission, Kenna began working as a CNA in a rest home. To her surprise, she grew to love the medical field. “I had no idea I was gonna like nursing or be interested in it, but I just fell in love with taking care of people and being a part of the healing process,” she explains. Because of this newly discovered love, Kenna decided to pursue nursing, a career that would provide plenty of opportunities for her within the military. “I figured that was a good way to combine both.”

After getting into the nursing program, Kenna joined the ROTC. As both programs are huge time and energy commitments, Kenna says everyday requires balance and the choice of what to prioritize. Doing both requires sacrifice and discipline, but she feels confident that it’s worth it. “I feel like I’m getting the best experience from the nursing program and the clinical experience and the knowledge that I need, but I’m also learning [in the ROTC] about leadership and being able to step up and take charge which coincides with both. Both things are helping me and the other.”

After Kenna graduates, she is contractually obliged to serve as a nurse in the United States Army for four years. Part of those four years will include a full year of training on the ins and outs of army nursing. Kenna, however, is planning to serve the full twenty years before retiring from the army.

Kenna is passionate about encouraging other nurses to join the ROTC. “I think a lot of the same reasons people would be nursing would be amplified as they see what ROTC is about as well,” she says. “I think just the innate need or want to help people and to kind of sacrifice parts of yourself in order to do that–obviously in different ways–but I think that anyone who feels that deeply will be very fulfilled.” Kenna also considers giving healthcare to the individuals protecting our nation’s rights and freedoms to be one of the most fulfilling feelings in the world. “I couldn’t get that feeling anywhere else.”

Kenna with another member of ROTC

If you’re a current and prospective nursing student interested in following in Kenna’s footsteps and joining the ROTC as a nurse, contact the BYU ROTC at (801) 422-7725 or at

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