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Liberty nursing cadet ranks No. 1 in nation

October 18, 2010 : Marcelo A. Quarantotto Jr.

Liberty University senior Petra Gerber has two reasons to celebrate. Not only is she finishing the nursing program in December after only three and a half years, but she has been ranked the No. 1 U.S. Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) nursing cadet.

Gerber thought she would rank well, but still, she said, “It was somewhat of a shock.”

The ranking was announced in September and included 235 other nursing cadets in the nation, which are pulled from the main Order of Merit list of all 5,342 Army ROTC cadets in all fields of study (Gerber ranked 129th). Assessed annually, the OML rankings are based on a cadet’s GPA, physical fitness, extracurricular activities and a leadership evaluation.

“Obviously, she excelled in all of those areas,” said Senior Military Science Instructor Major Robert Foy. “She has it all.”

He added that nursing is a demanding major, “and then when you consider ROTC on top of it, it’s just really incredible — it’s like having two full-time jobs.”

He said Liberty has been fortunate to have many students rank in the top 200 for the last few years. Alex Woody was ranked No. 8 out of 4,702 in September 2009.

Gerber attributes her success to her parents — both did ROTC when they were in college — who have always supported her and given her the will to succeed.

“I naturally want to do my best, even when it doesn’t matter,” she said. “I’m disappointed in myself when I don’t do well.”

She said one experience that helped motivate her to study hard was when she toured the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., during her sophomore year. She said it made her want to learn more about nursing so she would be able to provide the best care possible to servicemembers and their families.

But she hasn’t always aspired to be a nurse.

“I never wanted to be a nurse. My aunt is a nurse, and I just thought it was really hard work and that wasn’t for me,” she said. “[But] Just coming through nursing school, it has been the biggest blessing of my entire life. I will never be happier than in the center of God’s will because that’s where I should be.”

To find out more, visit the Liberty Army ROTC website and Liberty’s Military Affairs Office website.