While most college graduates struggle to find jobs, Jessica Steele won't have that problem. The American International College nursing student knows exactly what she will be doing for the next four years. Steele of Enfield, Conn., will be commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army and hopes to be heading to Germany for her first assignment.

Steele received her bachelor's degree at the AIC Commencement ceremony, Sunday, May 20, 10:00.

"I want to specialize in critical care, and Germany is where they send a lot of the injured soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan," she said.

Steele was among the top 10 percent of cadets nationwide chosen to receive the prestigious George Marshall Award. She recently joined winners from ROTC units throughout the United States who were invited to attend the prestigious, three-day seminar in Lexington, Virginia.

Cadets participate in roundtable discussions on major national security issues with a leader, usually with an academic, military, or diplomatic background. The other major aspect of the program is the opportunity for the cadets to hear from the leaders of the Army and Department of Defense, either about current national security policy or what the Army expects from them as junior officers and leaders of the future.

When Jessica Steele arrived as a freshman at American International College four years ago, she wasn't sure what she was going to study. But it didn't take her long to choose nursing, one of the college's most challenging programs. She then combined it with the ROTC program making for a very full and rigorous schedule.

Along with her nursing coursework and clinical obligations, Jessica endured physical and classroom training with the ROTC program. "Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday we did PT from 6:30 - 7:30 in the morning. On Tuesday we worked on military strategy, including recon missions, ambushes, etc. On Thursday, we were in the field putting what we learned into practice," she said

Her road to a college degree wasn't easy, and Jessica said there were times when she had her doubts. "There were plenty of tears and heartaches along the way," she said. "But the AIC faculty really stood by me through the tough times."

She credits her nursing advisor Donna Polverini with helping her when things got tough. "I remember going to Professor Polverini and telling her I was really struggling. She was great. She gave me encouragement and the confidence I needed to succeed," Steele said.