What it meant to be a RAT (Recruit At Training)
By: Juan Garcia Gutierrez
One of the main reasons why I came to NMMI was that I wanted to become independent. At the age of fifteen, I thought I could live and take care of myself. Your reason for coming to New Mexico Military Institute does not really matter. What really matters is your motivation to strive for the best and achieve the goals you set for yourself because at the end, you are your own biggest challenge at the Institute.
During your RAT period at NMMI, the worse thing to do is to take something for granted. There are, without a doubt, struggles along the way that will ultimately make you become stronger. One of the main struggles about being a RAT is being away from home. Even if you live in town! Having to learn all of the customs and traditions of the Institute is also a struggle. The most important thing to do that people struggle the most on is most definitely following the rules. The first time you get your Blue Book, which is the document with all standards and rules to follow, you will be very impressed about all the little things that you are not allowed to do that most likely did at home without even thinking. It might seem hard to memorize all the content, but doing it will definitely make your stay at NMMI a lot better!
Along with the struggles at NMMI comes military instruction. This instruction starts from verbal warnings all the way to marching in a rectangle. Everybody makes mistakes along the way because those are part of the learning process. Every single RAT that comes in is like a baby that is learning how to walk and speak. Breaking rules the first twenty-one days is normal and usual. Your cadre, the corps leaders in charge of you, are the ones in charge of coaching and mentoring the RATs to the point where they become “New Cadets” and are able to make the right decisions at the right time for the right purpose. The struggles you overcome help you become a stronger cadet, more organized and with better time management. A piece of advice I have for new incoming RATs is to be respectful at all times, know your place in the chain of command (THE VERY BOTTOM!), and understand that although the person telling you what to do might be younger in age, he/she is wiser in knowledge of the school.
The twenty-one day period changed me in a huge way. By following the rules and keeping my mouth shut when I needed to, I did not even notice that I became a more organized and sharp individual. The twenty-one day period is critical because you absorb information almost the entire day. Classes do not start until two weeks inside training. It is of high importance that RATs pay attention to detail and try learning everything they can during that period because it will help them survive at NMMI. I did and I’m prouder for it!