Carissa Baldwin ’20

Although she grew up in a military family, Carissa never thought she would end up joining the service herself. But as the years passed, she realized that she felt called to join the military and to serve her country. As the daughter of a United States Marine, Carissa felt at home in the military way of life. Eventually, the countless moves, school changes, and years of new houses and new friends became the norm, and she began to find joy in the challenge of change. When the time came to look to the future, she saw that military lifestyle was an honorable one, and the pathway that provided her with the sense of duty and dedication that she desired.

Being raised in the Marine Corps taught her about the importance of servant leadership and sacrifice, and those lessons were always central to Carissa’s life. Her family always stayed together, and leaned on one another in times of deployment, trial, and hardship. She was inspired by her father’s leadership and dedication to serving his country and her mother’s commitment to family and support for her father and the dreams of her and her younger brother. In her last two years of high school (luckily spent at the same school), she watched an older friend receive a Marine Corps ROTC scholarship to his dream school. Carissa realized that she could do the same and earn the commission she desired to serve her country.

Carissa applied for the Navy ROTC scholarship, which elicited plenty of teasing from the Marines in her life, following in her grandfather’s footsteps, who served as a Navy Chief and was a big Notre Dame fan. In her application process, Carissa stumbled across the University of Notre Dame in a list of impressive Navy ROTC units. The school seemed to call to her, it had everything she wanted and more in a college, and the academic challenge, dedication to service, and uniqueness led her to fall in love with Notre Dame. She then received the ROTC scholarship to Notre Dame, followed by acceptance to the University, which she immediately accepted.

She finally stepped foot on campus for the first time in April of her senior year and found herself truly at home. Since coming to the University of Notre Dame, Carissa has found not only the home where she has lived the longest, but also a place that she feels has helped her become the person and future military officer she dreamed she’d be. She is currently studying as a Biological Sciences major with a minor in Italian Studies. The Navy ROTC unit has become a second family in her time at Notre Dame, filled with like-minded individuals working to earn the title of Ensign in the U.S. Navy and Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps that support each other like a family. On campus, Carissa is a Resident Assistant in Pangborn Hall, a member of the Biology and Italian Clubs, has worked in numerous mentorship programs on campus, and has studied echolocation as a research assistant in a bioacoustics laboratory.

Carissa is service assigned Student Naval Aviator in the US Navy, and will be attending flight school after graduation. She hopes to fly V-22 Ospreys or CH-53 Sea Stallion helicopters.