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Angela Scott ’01: Why I VMI

Angela Scott ’01


To say that U.S. Army Col. Angela Scott ’01 began her cadetship with lots of challenges risks a serious understatement. To begin with, she was from Oklahoma—a state that sends relatively few matriculants to VMI. Then, she was a woman who matriculated in fall 1997, thus becoming a member of VMI’s first coeducational class. To top it off, in those days before Facebook and Twitter spread news stories far and wide, Scott was uninformed about the context of coeducation at VMI. She’d never even heard of United States v. Virginia, the Supreme Court case that mandated that the Institute admit women.

All she knew was that she wanted to go into the military—and she wanted a challenge. “It was the words loyalty, duty, responsibility, respect, that I wanted,” she stated. “I wanted to be a part of something greater than I was.”

Scott, who was Angela Winters as a cadet, was still pondering her future after high school when one day, a brochure from VMI arrived in the mail. “And I looked at [the brochure], and it said those exact same words that I had been thinking through, and then I got a video in the mail,” she commented. “And it showed the same words almost in typescripts popping up on the screen. And I thought, ‘Oh, my gosh, this is a place for me.’”

Soon, Scott applied and was accepted. She began her VMI journey—the one that would take her all the way across the eastern United States to a school she’d never seen—knowing almost nothing about what lay ahead. “I was very sheltered,” said Scott. “I had no idea what was going on in the outside world. I’m sure my parents did. But all I knew was VMI was a challenge. And it was hard. And it was on the other side of the world from Oklahoma.”

The night before matriculation, Scott and her family drove across the state line into Virginia. The next day, they got their first glimpse of VMI. “We drove and came onto campus,” she said. “And one, I thought it was beautiful. And two, I saw a whole lot of media. And I remember turning to my dad and saying what are they doing here?”

Not surprisingly, Scott spent the next few days in survival mode. But at no point did she want to return to the farm fields of her native state. “There were some days that were terrible,” she noted. “And that I did want to quit. But I was so stubborn. I was a stubborn, stubborn young lady. And I was proud. And I had something to prove, not only to myself but really to my community.” Some people back home, she explained, expected her to wash out and return to Oklahoma shortly.

Right away, Scott adopted a mindset that proved crucial to her success: Everything awful was a chance to grow and learn. “It was an opportunity to get stronger than anyone else around me,” she stated.

“I believe in VMI. I believe in the power of women. And I think those two should merge.”

Col. Angela Scott ’01

Over the course of four years, Scott pushed forward with that grit-focused mindset. She excelled academically, graduating with distinction and earning a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry. At graduation, she commissioned into the Army and was soon deployed overseas with Operation Iraqi Freedom. Since then, she’s had a varied sampling of Army assignments.

“I’ve done just as many things as you can imagine,” she commented. “I’ve advised on consequence management and defense port civil authorities missions around the world. I have worked at the Pentagon on force modernization and budgets. I’ve taught Army tactics, division-level tactics to majors. I’ve done a lot of things, and it’s just been an incredible experience. I’ve commanded a battalion … you name it, I’ve probably done it because it’s fun to do the things that are uncomfortable or are different.”

Last fall, Scott attended the 25th anniversary celebration of women at VMI—and talked about why she’s chosen to give back to the Institute. Like many young alums, Scott wasn’t very engaged with VMI in the first few years after graduation. But as the years ticked by, that began to change. “You love VMI in the rearview mirror,” she stated. “I realized VMI was an incredible place. It was an incredible opportunity. It really helped me become someone that I like to be. And so, it finally hit me one day that it was time to give back.”

Part of her giving back is advocacy—advocacy for the VMI system that molded her into the person she is today. “[VMI] brings to you challenge and adversity that you really need to get out of the way right now,” she said. “VMI helps you transition and bridge from a life at home into a real world that has a lot of adversity and challenge.”

Today, Scott has a succinct piece of advice for rats, 3rd Class cadets, and really, any cadet who’s struggling and feeling like they can’t go on at VMI: “It’s okay to quit in your room. But then leave your room and keep going.”

Scott is particularly interested in helping attract more women to VMI. “The world needs more women in the workforce everywhere we go,” she said. “I believe in VMI. I believe in the power of women. And I think those two should merge.”

  • Victoria Ferris

    Victoria Ferris Social Media and Communications Strategist

    The social media and communications strategist is responsible for creating compelling, audience-appropriate, multi-channel content for social media, and for monitoring the VMI Alumni Agencies' social media accounts. The strategist supports all communications efforts, including email marketing deployment and training, website updating, and video editing.

    Mary Price

    Mary Price Development Writer/Communications Specialist

    The development writer plays a key role in producing advancement communications. This role imagines, creates, and produces a variety of written communication to inspire donors to make gifts benefiting VMI. Utilizing journalistic features and storytelling, the development writer will produce content for areas such as Annual Giving, stewardship, and gift planning.