Lance Jandreau grew up in Maine, where his dad was a state trooper and National Guardsman. Just a few minutes of conversation with Lance reveal his agreeably upbeat and positive approach to life in general, and to military life in particular.
A highly competitive four-year scholarship through ROTC is paying for most of Lance’s Saint Michael’s College experience.
He gets up before sunrise three mornings a week and spends one full afternoon each week as well at the University of Vermont, training among 80 other ROTC cadets there in a challenging program with which Saint Michael’s affiliates. Two other St. Mike’s students are with him in the program, which involves extensive physical fitness training and classes on tactics, leadership and Army protocols.
Lance says he loves everything about it, and he even has sought out special training opportunities during summer and school breaks beyond his regular ROTC sessions. At an intense and competitive-to-attend national ROTC basic camp at Fort Knox, KY, last summer, his peers chose him “best of platoon” out of 51 cadets. Before that, he took a Mountain Planners course at nearby Camp Ethan Allen, where he also learned a lot and had a good experience, he says.
On top of that, he is a resident assistant in his St. Mike’s residence hall, which just further helps him hone his leadership skills. Lance played four varsity sports in high school, was president of his Fort Kent, Maine, National Honor Society chapter, and was a class officer. He says his dad, recognizing Lance’s natural qualities as a leader, encouraged him to consider college over direct enlistment after high school at a time when they were weighing both options.
Winning the Saint Michael’s Book Award first put the College on his radar, Lance says, but he was hell-bent initially on getting to West Point – that is, until a visit there, and shortly after to Saint Michael’s, helped him realize that he’d feel like a better fit “as a Purple Knight than as a Black Knight,” as he puts it.
For the long-term, he hopes to earn a doctorate degree in clinical psychology using military scholarships, ideally landing in the medical service branch. That would take roughly three years, he says, followed by a duty assignment, and he’ll owe the Army eight years of service for the privilege of those scholarships. That meshes with his present view: that he could happily foresee a 20-year career in the Army to earn retirement and benefits, perhaps leading to private practice. “My other hope is to work with the Humane Society in using animals as a form of therapy for veterans,” Lance says, explaining that he always has been an animal-lover.
He feels that he and the College are on the right track with respect to the military. “I think they made the right decision picking Ken O’Connell to fill the veterans’ affairs position at St. Mike,” he says. “Ken’s extremely cool-headed, which is exactly what we needed in that position to get things done. I know he’s done an amazing amount of work to build up the veterans relations we have here at St. Mike’s”
“I’ve always felt that with the Army style of life, it’s a community, a brotherhood, a family. And that’s one thing that I think is extremely parallel with St. Mike’s,” says Lance. For his first two student years, he says, older student-veterans who were back from overseas tours sometimes could seem like they were being tough with him in a brotherly way, he says, but he realizes that was only in order to help him succeed later among active military, which is what they told him. “I’m thankful for the experience -- just as I was with the drill sergeants who might yell at you like when I was at Fort Knox, where we also dealt with such intense heat -- at least for a guy from northern Maine!” he says. “ But the confidence you gain going through those things -- I ended up enjoying every second of it. Like anything, it’s what you make of it.”