In Their Own Words – Spring 2017

“Why I Chose Norwich as a Civilian,”
by Kaylee Krizan ’18.

IN MY FRESHMAN YEAR, I got asked a lot why I chose to attend Norwich as a civilian. Why not go to a “normal” college? Explaining it to someone who doesn’t really know me is difficult. But first of all, the way I found out about Norwich blew my mind.

One day I was checking my email designated to the college search, scrolling through the mounds of colleges in North Carolina offering to waive my applications fees or trying to sell me on some aspect, not knowing I wanted to be a good distance from home when I went to college.

A colorful Kaylee Krizan ’18 at the 2015 NU Inter-Cultural Student Organization Holi Festival, an Indian festivity during which participants throw brightly colored powder. (Photo by Mark Collier.)

A colorful Kaylee Krizan ’18 at the 2015 NU Inter-Cultural Student Organization Holi Festival, an Indian festivity during which participants throw brightly colored powder. (Photo by Mark Collier.)

That’s when I stumbled upon an email from Norwich’s head wrestling coach, saying he’d love to have me visit the school and check out the team. Now, in my wrestling career I had plenty of people figure my name was just a typo, or thought it was just spelled funny, and decide I was actually called Kyle, and that I was a boy. So my first response to Coach [Alex Whitney ’08] was pretty much I’d love to, but you know I’m a girl, right? The next email I got back mentioned nothing of my gender question, and simply said if I was interested I should fill out a prospective athlete form. I raced down the stairs and showed the message to my parents, shocked and elated that I had received an email from an actual college wrestling coach who didn’t care if I was a female that wanted to wrestle co-ed. That was a big check on my list, especially since my number-one college choice was very much against females wrestling on traditionally all-male teams.

Norwich had a psychology major, but I was hoping to look more in depth into forensic psychology. When I visited, that was checked off too, since Norwich was advertising a forensic psychology minor. Another plus was that you were required to do research to graduate, and boy did I have a lot of hypotheses.

The last thing was the sense of home I felt when visiting. I’d toured probably seven colleges and Norwich was the only one that when I spent time there, it felt like I belonged.

As for the part about becoming a civilian, well, I pondered being Corps for a while. The option of doing research in the military appealed to me, but I could always contract as a civilian. I decided in the end, after meeting with the Army recruiter who told me yeah, maybe the military isn’t for you, that I shouldn’t go Corps side.

That’s why I went civilian, and that’s why I chose a private military academy, and I’m glad I did. There’s nowhere else I think I could’ve gotten the experiences I did, other than Norwich. I somewhat understand a world most don’t even get the chance to see. I can communicate with people in what can seem like a whole other language. And, while the military path isn’t necessarily for me, I see clearly the other options that are open to me from this experience I was blessed to have.

Editor’s note: Kaylee Krizan was accepted into Norwich’s psychology program, and was on track to join the wrestling team freshman year. But unfortunately, during her senior year of high school, a health issue arose that derailed her plans. “So I went to Coach Whitney and he told me not to worry, that I’d always have a spot on the team.” Undeterred by the setback, she became a manager, doing what needed to be done, keeping score, accompanying the wrestling team on tournaments and matches, making sure the wrestlers knew their mat and bout numbers, and “waking them up from their naps in between matches.”

Read the unabridged version of “Why I Chose Norwich as a Civilian” and her wrestling essay, “The Feeling of the Mat.”

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