By: Emily Mulcahey
Dedication, motivation, and drive are words often used to describe the members of the United States military. However, they are not often used to describe college-aged civilians. Kasper Strzeciwilk is the incredible exception to this rule.
Currently, Kasper is a contracted cadet, but he only managed that feat a mere four months ago on the last possible day to contract. All his life, Kasper had been overweight. Looking at him now, and one would not have ever guessed that. Why? All because of the power in himself, and his determination to join the world’s greatest military land force.
Kasper grew up on Staten Island, or as he describes it, the “fake Jersey Shore.” In high school he joined the Marine Corps Junior ROTC, which ultimately led him to pursue his ROTC dreams in college. Despite his weight, Kasper had other interests as well: wrestling. His friends convinced him to join, and once he started, he was hooked.
“The first week was hard because I had never done anything like that,” he says, “even the coach thought I was going to quit after “Hell Week.” But I said ‘no, I’m not going to quit’ and I stuck with it through the rest of high school.”
This remarkable determination at such a young age should’ve been a sign to everyone who knows him. No matter what, Kasper is willing to go the distance—and then some.
After his Junior ROTC time in high school, Kasper started college at Stony Brook University in Stony Brook, Ny. and looked for a recruiter for the real deal. However, when Kasper finally found one, he left the office less than encouraged.
“He told me there was no way I could join, and that it was highly unlikely that I could lose the weight,” reflects Kasper, “I was so determined to join, that just kick-started it within me. That summer alone I lost about 45 lbs.”
Just as with wrestling, the first glimpse of someone believing he would fail was enough to drive Kasper to prove them wrong. Over the course of the next school year, Kasper lost an astounding 80 lbs, all through his own plan of action: cutting calories and cross fit classes. No diet plan, just willpower.
“The first week or two was difficult, I had to really adjust because I was working out as well,” he says, “the hardest part was eating right. It’s mind over matter.”
In February 2015, on the final day to become contracted in ROTC, the cadre came to Kasper’s school just to give him a “tape test” to determine his body fat percentage. After months of dedication and perseverance, he made weight. He was able to become a contracted ROTC cadet.
Now, Kasper would love to make a career out of the army. He is the first person of his family in the U.S. military (his relatives were in the Polish Military), and he wants to make a name for himself.
“Even if I don’t make active duty,” he says, “as the saying goes, ‘if you shoot for the moon, the worst that can happen is you land in the stars.’ If I don’t get active duty, I’ll still end up being in the Army Reserves or National Guard.”
Above all, Kasper’s positivity has gotten him where he is today, and he truly believes that having the right attitude is the key to success.
“If you really want to put your mind to it,” he stated, “you can do it. It’s not impossible.”