In an age where ambition often outruns authenticity, Liberty Ladd, a dynamo at the intersection of mechanics, the military, and politics, manifests a mosaic of service dedication that sets a new bar for student endeavors. Liberty isn't just any student; she's a double major at MIT, interweaving the threads of political science and mechanical engineering while also taking to the skies in the Air Force ROTC program according to MIT News.
Mitigating the injustices she has witnessed, from teen years spent challenging school policies to scrutinizing the way America treats its veterans, Ladd is laser-focused on reform. Serving for a minimum five-year stint in the United States Space Force post-graduation, she plans to use her experience in the military to forge ahead with her ultimate goal: policymaking. Despite her steely resolve, Ladd's approach remains refreshingly human, imbued with the conviction that even within the grand tapestry of systemic change, personal actions are the fundamental threads.
On campus, Ladd's community involvement paints as vibrant a picture as her academic and military commitments. "I’m on the varsity field hockey team. Sophomore year, COVID sent us all home, so we got one extra year of eligibility. I was here for my master’s, so I figured I’d play one more year," Ladd explained in the MIT News interview. Once eyeing a legal career, Ladd stayed tied to the mock trial team, drawn by camaraderie and fun well after dreams of the courtroom had faded.
The ROTC at MIT isn't just pomp and parades; it's about honing future leaders, an ethos Ladd has clearly embraced. "Freshman and sophomore year, you’re learning what the military is and what it does. The juniors and seniors are responsible for crafting the curriculum to prepare the underclassmen to go to field training and graduate," she divulged. Her motivation to join the military extended beyond service; it was wrapped in a desire to influence the fairness and equity within its ranks, learning about inequities within "institutionally, we’ve got a certain percentage of our members living on SNAP programs while they’re serving the military," Liberty said with scrutiny.
While conquering the military-academic nexus, Ladd hasn't shied away from difficult conversations about officer selection or the treatment of military members faced with mental health or homelessness crises. It's this blend of intellect and will that defined Ladd's reaction to ROTC cuts during her sophomore year, prompting her to challenge the system. "Fortunately, the Air Force did change course: While not all my peers were allowed to rejoin, a large majority were," Ladd recounted, marking her debut in effecting bureaucratic change.
As five-year-old Liberty might have been perplexed by her future self’s multifaceted journey, today’s Ladd has reconciled intelligence with strength and her pink attire. That image of the polymath scholar-soldier isn’t just theoretical – it's a vivid snapshot of Liberty Ladd, going above and beyond as she engineers a career that defies facile definitions.