All it took for Senior Chelsea Schnitzler was one viewing of "World Trade Center" and she knew.
"I was torn apart by it," she said. "The people who died in 9/11 - in the planes and on the ground - are heroes and I wanted to fight for them. Since they no longer have a voice, I wanted to be their voice."
The 2006 film, depicting the courageous acts of rescue workers in New York City, motivated Chelsea enough to decide she wanted to join a college-based ROTC program and study nursing.
"My parents thought it was a phase, but I knew this was something I had to do," she said.Thanks to an Army ROTC full, four-year scholarship and additional aid from the college, Chelsea will attend Creighton University in Nebraska in the fall. She'll be admitted directly into the school's four-year nursing program and also will enroll in military coursework. Along the way, she'll attend leadership training and boot camp, but will graduate as an Army officer and will serve four years of active duty followed by four years of reserve duty.
Nursing, a family legacy shared with multiple relatives, is something she hardly considered, but came to understand that the career fit her need to help others. "I like to care for people," Chelsea said. "One of my (soccer) teammates goes down, I'm the first one there. And I've always been interested in the Army; I have an enormous amount of respect for people who serve their country."
Chelsea also would like to join the military to honor her grandfather, a former veteran who died last year of leukemia. "He was my hero. It (the military) was a big part of his life and I want that same experience," she said.
At St. Agnes, Chelsea is a four-year participant in the Academy's soccer program and this year serves as the varsity squad's captain, along with her best friend Senior Jackie Mackey. She is a member of the Campus Ministry Team and is an active Vacation Bible School volunteer at her parish, Epiphany of the Lord Catholic Church in Katy. She also assists with confirmation classes there, participated in two summer mission trips to Mexico, and is a coach for summer soccer clinics.
Chelsea admits St. Agnes more than prepared her for a career in the military. "Being at SAA is a lot of commitment. You have to learn to balance a lot of things and to stay strong with your commitments - studying, sports, and your faith," she said. "But it's also taught me where I can go and what I can do to help people get back on their feet."
She plans to enjoy the remaining months of her senior year, while preparing for medical exams and ongoing fitness goals.
"I'm ready," Chelsea said. "I've been preparing myself mentally for this for a long time, but I'm ready to serve."