Stories of Impact

Hall ’24: “Best Four Years of My Life”

Jillian Hall ’24


When Cadet Jillian Hall ’24 was growing up in Milford, Connecticut, there were no early clues that she’d one day be a member of the Corps of Cadets. She’d never heard of VMI, and no one in her family had served in the military.

An offer of a soccer scholarship, though, made her aware of the Institute, and the more Hall thought about the offer, the more it appealed to her. “What drew me to it was that it was different than any other college,” she noted. “So, I just decided that I’m going to go for it. … I think I decided to come to VMI because I wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself.”

In May, Hall will graduate from VMI with a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology and commission into the U.S. Army. She proudly ticks off the boxes she’ll check just over two months from now, as she’ll become the first person to commission into the military and the first woman to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in her family.

This year, Hall has served as captain of the women’s soccer team and been a member of the Rat Disciplinary Committee—neither positions she would have foreseen for herself when she was a rat. “Coming into VMI rat year, soccer was my main goal,” she said. “And I didn’t think I’d have the opportunities I have now to lead on the athletic side and the military side. … It’s two ways I can lead my peers, and I think that’s awesome.”

The Rat Disciplinary Committee position is one in particular that she hadn’t seen coming—as someone who describes herself as “always smiling,” Hall had a hard time seeing herself in an authoritarian role. Her peers, though, nominated her for the position, and their vote of confidence was all she needed. Now, she sees her RDC position as a way to ensure that the integrity of VMI’s system remains firm long after she and her brother rats have left barracks.

“Looking at this Rat Line this year, I think it’s really opened my perspective in saying, ‘Wow, these are my rats; this is my legacy right here,’” she commented. “And to uphold that legacy, we want to make sure that this Rat Line is as best as it can be and that these rats are holding their utmost standard.”

“That structure really helped me ... [The Rat Line] provided me a way to become the person I am today.”

Jillian Hall ’24

An appreciation of that utmost standard during her own rat year played a large role in Hall’s acceptance of the RDC position. While she had plenty of tough days during the Rat Line and was sometimes homesick, Hall also says she “fell in love with the Rat Line” because even then, she knew it was shaping her into a better version of herself.

“That structure really helped me become the person I am today,” she stated. “[The Rat Line] provided me a way to become the person I am today. … I think the Rat Line was a great way for me to become the best version of myself and meet my best friends in the entire world.”

Today, Hall can remember just how pivotal it was to go home for Thanksgiving during her rat year: “I realized I’d met some of my closest friends when we went home for Thanksgiving furlough, and I’m like, ‘Wow, I actually miss VMI,’” she commented. “Even though it was only a week at home, I realized that those people around you become your immediate support system, and they become your family in a way.”

The demands of being a cadet-athlete have also helped to focus Hall’s cadetship and honed her time management skills. “We’d have these three-hour practices, and then have two hours, and all of a sudden you realize, ‘Oh wow, it’s 10 o’clock, I have to do my homework,’” she related. “I’m more than an athlete here. I’m more than a rat. At the end of the day, I have to get my college degree and stay on track to graduating on time. So, academics was something I had a hard transition to at first, but I definitely learned to overcome.”

As with the rest of VMI, support from her brother rats carried Hall through the demands of being a cadet-athlete. “I think my teammates got me through it,” she explained. “I’m not just an individual experiencing this by myself. My teammates are also experiencing this, so we as a whole support each other and lift each other up when things are tough because what I’m going through, she’s going through as well.”

As the weeks to graduation go by, Hall is extremely grateful for those generous individuals whose support makes cadetships like hers possible. Without financial support, she noted, she likely wouldn’t have been able to come to VMI because her brother, just 13 months her senior, is also in college.

“I think that the donors and alumni who give back to [VMI] really know how special of a place VMI is and the type of person it breeds,” she said. “And I think they want more of those people in the world.”

  • Victoria Ferris

    Victoria Ferris Social Media and Communications Strategist

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    Mary Price

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    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.