Career Spotlight on Catalina Rosales
Position & Title: Air Defense Battery Commander
United States Army
What are some of your job responsibilities?
I am a Captain in the U.S. Army; specifically my title is “Commander.” As Commander I am in charge of the training, morale, welfare and readiness to deploy of 91 Soldiers tasked to operate a medium to high altitude Patriot missile system in defense of critical assets to American national security. As the Commander, I am responsible for making decisions on a daily basis that affect my Soldiers’ lives as well as their families and am overall responsible for the successes and failures or my organization.
How did you find your current job?
I actually stumbled upon this. I never thought I’d be a Commissioned Officer in the United States Army; much less make it a career. All of my life growing up I wanted to be a doctor, so I prepared myself for this throughout school; taking advanced science classes and focusing in that area. I was accepted to a 6 year medical program in the Instituto Tecnologico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey.
However, after a few short weeks, I realized that that was not my calling. I changed my major to International Business and ended up graduating from Stephen F. Austin State University in 2003. I now had a different goal: to be in business for myself. Simultaneously, I was very attracted to the area of international business that dealt with forming and bridging relationships across different countries; the international “relations” piece of things. This would play a bigger role in my future. But for the mean time, I set my sights on becoming my own boss. So I tried my luck at opening up my own small business. With the right planning and resourcing, the business actually thrived. Meanwhile, I was continuing to prepare myself because I knew that the business world would be competitive. So while I owned my business I also went to the University of Texas-Tyler full-time as an graduate student pursuing a Master of Business Administration.
While studying my MBA I discovered I had a passion for business law; particularly business law and business formations and transactions. The more educated I became, the more the world opened up itself to me and I learned that there are a great deal of choices out there! After being my own boss and getting an MBA by 2005, I decided, “why not merge business and law?” So I went after the Law Schools Admission Test (LSAT). I decided I would sell my small business and pursue a degree in law.
However, one night, as I was reflecting on all of the great opportunities I have had as an immigrant in this country, I realized that I felt like I had not contributed enough. With Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom at their height, I felt that as an American I needed to contribute more; to something bigger than myself. I figured that since I had already taken the LSAT and scored well, law school could wait a few years so that I could serve my country.
I knew I wanted to be a leader and I wanted to use my skills and talents for something great while at the same time volunteering to support our country in a time of struggle. I applied to become a Commissioned Officer in the United States Army and was accepted in 2006. After initial training and being assigned to my first unit in Air Defense, I realized that this was my true calling. Being a leader and mentor for young Soldiers and earning the satisfaction of knowing your hard work goes into the greater good of society is a feeling that I will never want to give up. After seven years, I am still serving my country and plan to continue serving for as long as I am allowed.
I had an interest in international relations in college and by being part of the Air and Missile Defense community I gained exposure to many national security challenges that I chose to explore in my independent studies. Wanting to know more and how I could best serve my branch, my Army and my country, I enrolled in a Graduate Certificate Program in Advanced International Affairs from Texas A&M University. After completing the program, I went on to apply many of the things I learned in my studies. Some of that work in conjunction with my operational work was noticed and I was offered three opportunities: to earn a Master of Leadership from Columbia University with a follow-on assignment to West Point; to earn a Master in Public Policy from Georgetown with a follow-on assignment at the Pentagon Army Staff and Joint Chiefs of Staff or a Master in Public Administration from George Washington University with a follow-on 2-year assignment as an Army Congressional Fellow. I still haven’t decided what I’m going to do, but I know whatever I choose, I will excell because I am confident and I have worked hard all of my life for these opportunities!
What is your favorite part of your job?
I love leading Soldiers and making a positive impact in their lives. When Soldiers tell me that I made a positive influence in their lives, it makes my job worthwhile. Knowing that I am contributing to making people better and making this country safer, is all of the personal satisfaction I need in life.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
Hmmm….I face challenges on a daily basis. I think challenges are fun because they really test my abilities, will, problem solving skills, tenacity, and everything else. Sometimes challenges can be because there’s not enough resources to do the things I need to prepare my Soldiers for war. This is where I have to be creative to provide those resources to complete the mission at hand. Sometimes challenges are tactical and technical and I really have to roll up my sleeves to come up with a solution that meets the mission given by my higher Commanders. Sometimes it’s just a challenge getting out of bed at 4:30 every morning. I am not a morning person, believe it or not!
What advice would you give to help a girl prepare for a job like yours?
Be confident! Be a leader! Take charge! Be mentally and physically tough. Always be the standard setter. Don’t let anyone set it for you. Be proud to be an American and confident in everything that you can contribute to the greater good for our nation and society.
What do you do for fun when you aren’t working?
I love to work out and run and stay physically fit. I am on the Women’s Army Ten Miler Team representing Fort Bliss. I do Crossfit and also train small groups in circuit-based endurance training. I compete in Marathons, Half-Marathons, local races, mud races (like the Tough Mudder and the Super Spartan Race) as well as adventure races (if you don’t know what an adventure race is, look it up online. They are so much fun!!).
I also like to read and stay current with current events and I also like hanging out with my friends and having fun. Having a balanced lifestyle is very important to me.