As the only law student in the University of Richmond’s Army ROTC battalion, Polina Tsvetikova is putting her status to good use. She’s the Command Sergeant Major of the unit, which means she’s the “principal advisor to the commander on the state of morale, discipline, and training of cadets within the battalion.” And at the same time, she’s honing the skills that she'll use in her career as a lawyer. “There are a lot of things I do in ROTC that are applicable to the profession of law,” said Tsvetikova. “Like negotiations, … how we interact with other armies, or other key leaders.”

This past summer, Tsvetikova further developed that skillset on a trip to Poland with 15 other ROTC cadets from across the United States as part of the Army’s Cultural Understanding and Language Proficiency Program (CULP). They spent a small part of their trip in something of a tourist capacity – visiting castles and cathedrals, and touring Auschwitz. But they also joined their Polish counterparts in training activities. The team practiced peace support operations with Polish and Austrian cadets. They took part in psychological training exercises, tactical exercises, and a negotiation course. They also did fitness testing at Poland’s Sixth Airborne Brigade in Krakow, and joined the Seventeenth Mechanized Brigade in the city Miedzyrzecz for a tour by tank.

“Our focus was to build military-to-military relationships,” said Tsvetikova. And although there’s no foreign language requirement to the CULP program, there is a focus on building better officers through understanding other cultures and through communications. “Even though we didn’t all speak the same language, our communication was very clear," she added.

After three weeks in Poland, Tsvetikova spent a month in training at Ft. Knox, Ky., developing skills in execution, mental agility, and army knowledge, all of which have some ability to “transfer over to the legal profession,” she explained. For now, though, Tsvetikova is focusing on finishing her 3L year – and celebrating the fact that she’s accomplished an important goal: She was recently accepted to serve as an active duty officer upon commissioning in May as a Second Lieutenant.

Learn more about University of Richmond ROTC.