By Shelby Mullis
When the alarm clock sounds at 5:15 a.m., sophomore Teresa Wilds is ready to seize the day.
The 21-year-old “super mom” takes dedication to a new level.
Wilds’ life centers on three important responsibilities: training to become a United States Army 2nd Lieutenant, attending Franklin College full-time and caring for her 18-month-old daughter.
Wilds, a Texas native, was introduced to Franklin after she moved to the city with her grandparents when she was 12.
When she turned 18, Wilds moved back to Texas to visit her mother’s side of the family.
It was during her time in Texas that she found her calling.
“I studied law enforcement and EMT in high school,” Wilds said. “I knew I wanted to do public service. After I graduated, I didn’t want to go into college right away. I wanted a break.”
Soon after graduating, Wilds received a phone call from a United States Army recruiter.
A couple days later, Wilds signed into active duty.
Since joining the military, Wilds has been stationed at Fort Sill, Fort Huachuca and Fort Carson.
She is currently training to be commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant in 2019.
“[Joining the military] ended up being the best choice for me,” Wilds said. “When I talked to recruiters, I realized how much I liked being around them and the structure of it. My whole life revolves around it.”’
Wilds said diversity is important in the military, especially with women.
She said women hold themselves to a higher standard, and the negative stigma against women in the military “helps build unit cohesion.”
“Women are powerful,” Wilds said. “We not only can create life, but we can be successful and strong. I believe that being a female is what defines who I am, and I embrace that.”
During her time in Colorado, Wilds discovered the officer program to help her achieve her goal of becoming a lieutenant.
To be considered, she had to get a college degree.
“My only route was either getting out of the military and going to school or having the army pay for it with a scholarship,” Wilds said.
She discovered the Green to Gold scholarship, a competitive army scholarship program designed for soldiers to complete their college education.
Wilds was one of five soldiers to receive the full-tuition scholarship.
Wilds moved back to Franklin this year to study psychology and neuroscience at the college.
She also attends required military science classes at IUPUI as a Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) cadet.
Wilds said a well-rounded education is important for a soldier.
“At a liberal arts school, … you are forced to step out of your comfort zone and take classes you wouldn’t normally take,” she said. “That broadens your horizons and makes you more adaptable to what is going on in society.”
But Wilds is pursuing an education for something greater than the military.
In June 2014, Wilds found a new love for someone she says consumes her world.
“My daughter, Tatum Liberty, is my motivation,” Wilds said. “I am doing this for her and for myself. I’m making sure she has the life she deserves. She is a really happy kid and is independent, like me.”
Wilds added that through her struggles in life, her daughter gives her a reason to wake up everyday.
As a full-time college student in the military with a young child, Wilds said life can be challenging.
“I am only doing ROTC right now so that [the military] part isn’t as difficult,” Wilds said. “With a child, it’s difficult. I have to remain focused and goal-oriented. I have a schedule that I stick to every single day to make sure I get up and do the things I have to do.”
Although her day kicks off at 5:15 a.m. and her classes don’t end until 5 p.m. most days, Wilds said she wouldn’t trade it for anything.
“[The best part of the day] is when Tatum goes to sleep,” Wilds said. “I can just go in her room and look at her little angel face. That is my time to unwind and figure out everything. As a mom, you definitely need that – especially a single mom.”
Wilds said her family support, and especially her grandmother’s motivation, make her stronger.
“There is very little I would ever change about my past,” Wilds said. “I’m happy with where I am, and I made it here by the bumps and mistakes in life.”