OCdts. On Parade

M0308 Kathy Hoyland (RRMC RMC 1985)

“After Roads, RMC seemed a bit of a let-down, but overall I had a great time there as well.”

While the focus of this series of vignettes has been “the First 32”, i.e. the first class of women to enter RMC Kingston, there were other women pioneers in the Canadian Military Colleges-St Jean, Royal Roads, graduate students and UTPMs-and their stories are important as well. Here is the story of M0308 Kathy Hoyland – Class of 1985. She began her milcol story at Royal Roads Military College (RRMC) in 1981, part of a very small group indeed.

By 15566 Helga Grodzinski (RMC 1986)

Career before Military College:

Joined in Dec 1972 as a Naval Radar Plotter.
Guys from class went to sea and girls to Shelburne NS to be employed as Ocean Ops.
Couldn’t remuster.
Got out.
Got back in as a Finance Clerk in Toronto.

How I got to Military College:

Wanted to go back to school, researched various routes, decided to apply UTPM and was accepted at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario. Then came the message: Congrats – you’ve been accepted – UTPM Royal Roads Military College – SAY WHERE???? I had absolutely no idea what a military college was and that’s how I got there. I did my first 2 years at Royal Roads and last 2 at RMC.

The Experience:

The experience at MilCol was wonderful. I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to go that route because I met so many great people who would be a big part of my life in the military. At a civilian university you don’t have the opportunity to get to know as many future colleagues and the ones you will get to know will be in the same classification as yourself. MilCol puts you in contact will all classifications and the opportunity to network is endless. If you want a career in the military, the best place to start is MilCol.

I started at Royal Roads Military College (RRMC) in Sep ’81.

What was that like?

In ‘81 and 82 there were no female cadets at Roads, so we were very few women indeed. Roads was wonderful. The grounds were/are magnificent and it was much like being in a fairy tale. There were 4 females during my first year (2 in my year and 2 in the year ahead of me) then in my second year there were 5 but one quit half way through first term. I guess the small numbers made us stand out and everyone knew us by name quite quickly (don’t know if that’s good or bad). I’m not really sure if the differences were the result of small numbers of females (that was common in the military itself) or if it was the age difference. I really enjoyed getting to know my ROTP classmates and got along with them quite well. I did not find that there were any real inconveniences like washrooms, change rooms, etc. and of course, we UTPMs all had families and lived on the economy. I loved it there. After Roads, RMC seemed a bit of a let-down, but overall I had a great time there as well.

Special challenges by virtue of being UTPM – did you envy or feel sorry for the younger women who were cadets at RMC?

Neither really. I admired them I guess because that is a very full university life but very fulfilling at the same time. I did not even wish that I had gone there after high school. Personally, I was not ready for university right after high school (tried a civilian one for a semester) so I would definitely not have been ready for MilCol. l was not mature enough at that point. For me the UTPM route was they way to go. The female ROTPs that I got to know were a real mix of maturity and, on the whole, a wonderful group. Most seemed to fit in quite well but I did find it entertaining to be able to sit back and observe their growth over the 4 years (many I knew from BOTC).

Do you think the two colleges were “ready” for the admission of women when you were there?

Definitely, from my perspective as a UTPM. The only thing I cannot comment on is the accommodation side, since I lived off-campus.

Any memorable incidents?

Good, funny, bad, ugly, you name it. I remember a student’s car being disassembled and reassembled in the entrance of one of the quarters at Roads. The summer training where we rappelled from helicopters will always be a fond memory, I loved drill and parades, the professors/instructors were great, having to do overnight duty cadet in the “haunted castle” at Roads was a treat. To be quite honest, most of my fondest memories are of Roads and although I enjoyed my 2 years at RMC I’m really happy that I had the Roads opportunity.

Did Milcol help you develop any particular skills and attributes useful to your careers?

I was Log Fin and took the Force Reduction Plan (FRP) package in 1995 when they civilianized a whack of Finance positions. I basically rolled into a civilian job with Director General Personnel Services / Director Non-Public Funds Services which is now CFPSA – Canadian Forces Personnel Support Agency; now I am an internal auditor. So my degree and military training have been a big benefit for my current position. Other than that, since I was “older” when I went to MilCol, I had pretty much developed socially and personally. Practicing patience and trying to always be optimistic through the four years was very good practice. Leadership training and the Truth, Duty, Valour motto have been helpful. Being a MilCol grad is an accomplishment that anyone would be proud of.

Advice to women entering milcol today…

Tough one . . . “Be all that you can be” pops into my mind. No matter how tough it seems at the time it will get better and you will look back on ALL experiences with fond memories.

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