For female cadets like Stephanie Romero, the future has changed.
On Jan. 23, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta lifted the ban on women in combat arms roles within the military, opening opportunities in artillery, armor and infantry.
For some female cadets in the Corps, this has significantly changed their outlook and their prospects within the military.
"For myself, I'll actually be going combat arms, so my outlook is that now I have more opportunities within my branch to do stuff," said Cadet First Lt. Stephanie Romero, a senior in international studies and a platoon leader within the Corps.
Romero joined the Corps by chance after selecting the option during her application to Tech and came to enjoy it in during her freshman year. She eventually went into Army ROTC and took the Field Artillery path, a role greatly affected by this new policy change.
"Before, females were only able to do rockets," Romero said. "Now I won't have to worry about not being promoted as quickly as a male just because I haven't had those opportunities within my branch."
Many Cadets now have new opportunities open to them in a military career. However, the issue of women's role in the military has never been an easy one to solve, recently or historically, and few see it as clear-cut.
A New Opportunity
These changes to policy have limited effects on the Corps itself, which has traditionally been very inclusive of females.
"Within the Corps, there's no big change because the Corps has always gone out of its way to make sure females are given leadership opportunities,” Romero said. “Sometimes they try so hard to do so that they'll give females positions that females don't deserve. They really go out of their way to make sure females have those chances.”
While the Corps has already taken action to bring women into the ranks equally, Romero still views the policy change for the entire military as a progressive step in social rights.
"I don't think there are many females who want to go the route of combat arms, but the fact that they can now give hope that there's more equal opportunity and it's really progressive for women," Romero said.
The view is also shared by Cadet Captain Catherine Lijewski, a senior in communication, and the Commander for the ROTC Battalion at Virginia Tech. She is specializing in Military Intelligence with the Army.
Lijewski joined the Corps at Tech because it presented the best combination of going into service while still maintaining a normal college experience.
“I came down here, checked out the Corps, loved what I saw from it, and decided to sign up and join," Lijewski remembered.
Lijewski, who is less affected by the change because Military Intelligence has yet to allow women the opportunity to apply for officer positions, also pointed out that while the changes are new, they will not be quite as drastic as when women were initially allowed to enroll at all.
“Most everything else in the military is integrated already, so it's not like it's going to be something new; it's not like they've never seen a woman before," she said.