VMI's Rats arrive on 20th anniversary of admitting women

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LEXINGTON, Va. (WDBJ7) Around 500 young faces trooped into Cameron Hall for their first experience at VMI.

Classes are selected, professors met, papers – and the matriculation book – are signed.

Even four years later, the experience remains deeply ingrained.

“I had absolutely no clue what I was getting into," says Finn Swenson, class of 2018, now First Captain of the corps. "You know, I had watched all the videos online, but nothing prepares you for actually doing it.”

Samantha Brisco, also of the class of 2018, says, “I did not do my research before coming here. But I was very excited. But as soon as I saw those cadre running around the parade field, I was very intimidated. I said this is not exactly what I had in mind, but it was a very exciting experience.”

20 years ago, the Rats met their cadre in the usual way. But the class included women for the first time.

As they moved into the barracks this morning, the presence of women was nothing new.

“It’s really normal. It’s just a part of the system," says Jonathan Collings, class of 2018. "And, I mean, it flow very well. There’s not really many issues anymore. I mean, they’re part of the corps.”

“No big deal at all," explains Swenson. "It’s almost as if it’ been going on – everyone’s been here forever.”

Leaving the arriving students with their biggest problem being that painful good-bye to Mom and Dad.