Cadet Staff Sergeant Shaunie McGarry has been a member of West Lowland Battalion Army Cadet Force for the last five years. In that time, she has taken on a wide range of challenges and gained some exceptional qualifications. Lowland RFCA met with Cdt Staff Sgt McGarry to find out how her Cadet experience has helped her with her university application and plans for her future career.
What stage are you at with Cadets?
I am in the latter stages of my Cadet career now, having been involved for five and a half years. I belong to Irvine RLC unit and I am currently Acting Company Sergeant Major for Kohima Coy. This means I get to work closely with the Cadet Force Adult Volunteers (CFAVs) and help them to give the Cadets the best experience possible.
What qualifications have you gained in your time with the Cadets?
I have gained a phenomenal range of qualifications from the Cadets, from First Aid right through to leadership, radio and SQA (Scottish Qualification Authority) qualifications. I currently hold three out of the six possible qualifications that you can achieve. I have also managed to get three other SQA qualifications in the last two years; they all go towards not only my CV but also my UCAS tariff points when I am applying to universities and looking for jobs.
What impact have those qualifications had on your life?
The qualifications I have achieved in Cadets have already made a massive impact on my life. I am hoping to study Paramedic Science at university next year and the First Aid qualifications that I have achieved as a Cadet have set me apart from everybody else. It shows that I am not only a committed person but also that I know a lot more than the average student coming straight out of school.
Why have you chosen to study Paramedic Science?
I discovered a love for First Aid and helping other people through Cadets. For a while I did not know what I wanted to do or where I wanted to go. Originally I thought about going into the Army but the more I got to experience, the more I realised that First Aid was more my cup of tea. The course that I am going to do is very practical, which is my preferred learning style.
How did your experience as a Cadet feed into your university application?
When applying to university, you have to sell yourself in your personal statement. My time at Cadets featured quite heavily in that section. I wrote about all the experiences I have had, as well as extra qualifications that the UCAS application does not have specific sections for.
Writing about my Cadet experience helped me demonstrate how much I have developed. When I started Cadets, as a twelve-year-old little girl, I had no idea what I wanted to do. Cadets gave me the opportunity to prove myself and show people that I am the sort of person they want on their university course.
Would you encourage other young people to join the Cadets?
Absolutely – yes. It is something that I have never regretted and it is something that I never will regret. It has been this big solid part of my life and it is like a fun version of school. The second you put on that uniform and start walking about with your cap badges, it gives you an incredible sense of pride. Not only that but you meet so many people that will be friends for life – I know people who left the Cadets years ago but who are still my best pals and there are people here right now that I will still be best pals with when I leave.