Maj. Mary Schriver ’14, assistant director of admissions, and Cadet Alexandra “Allie” Sassaman ’22 first met at a women’s panel during an open house when Sassaman was a high school student. Over the years, Schriver became a mentor to the younger woman.
Recently, they sat down to discuss their journeys through VMI and why they’re glad they chose the Institute.
Schriver grew up hearing about VMI from her father and future Ring Figure date, Michael D. Schriver ’71, D.V.M. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology, graduating with distinction, and was active in a multitude of cadet clubs and organizations—among them, the Glee Club, the VMI Theatre, and the club volleyball team.
Sassaman has likewise been busy with academics and extracurricular activities. She’s majoring in international studies and earning three minors: Modern languages and cultures (Chinese), Asian studies, and national security. At graduation, she’ll commission into the Marine Corps and plans to join Schriver in the admissions office before heading off to The Basic School at Quantico, Virginia, and preparing for her role as a cybersecurity officer. In fall 2021, Sassaman and Cadet Kasey Meredith ’22, regimental commander, were two of five individuals selected nationally for these highly competitive positions.
This academic year, Sassaman has been playing her violin with the Strings Club, serving on the S5 staff (public relations), and writing her national security minor thesis on women involved in terrorism and counterterrorism operations.
“I think it’s been neat to learn how to fail and just roll with the punches and know that you have so many tasks all the time,” Sassaman commented. “You have to prioritize what you want to do and how you’re going to get it all done. You never feel like you’re not doing something or helping out somebody else in another way.”
Having the support of other women, Schriver included, has been vital to her cadetship, and she has likewise felt encouraged by seeing other female cadets succeed.
To this day, Sassaman still remembers the “cheerful” email Shriver sent her upon completing Breakout. In the email, Shriver invited Sassaman to visit with her in the admissions office, and that invitation helped cement their friendship.
For Shriver, seeing women such as Sassaman grow and change over the course of their cadetships is a wonderful side benefit of her work.
“One of the coolest things about my job is being able to see women like you come in as high school students and see their transformation,” said Schriver.
Sassaman, meanwhile, has been heartened to see an increase in the number of female cadets in leadership positions over the past few years.
“It’s so neat to see how many [female] captains there are this year and the regimental commander being a female, and just seeing how it’s paving the way into the future,” she commented.
Schriver concurred, sharing that she’d “rolled up on Matriculation Day with a hot pink trunk and had to carry that up,” ultimately succeeding despite that small miscue.
“The thing that I always preach is the coolest thing about VMI is that you don’t necessarily know who’s going to thrive in that environment or who’s going to come in and kind of look like a joke on day one and who’s going to hold a leadership position or be commissioning or doing something really impressive,” she stated.
“In high school, I never would have pictured myself at VMI,” Shriver continued. “But looking back on it, I can’t picture myself at any other college.”
Sassaman expressed appreciation for the “unmatched opportunities” that the Institute has given her and the power of the alumni network.
“I cannot express how much VMI has given to me and provided for me,” she stated.
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