A Year in the Guard: Private begins her military career

For those that serve, the first year can be filled with some powerful emotions. Pride in volunteering for the challenge of service, fear of the unknown that awaits them at basic training, and uncertainty that we made the right decision.  
For Army Pfc. Emmie Otto, a horizontal construction engineer who is starting her service with the Minnesota National Guard’s 851st Engineer Vertical Construction Company, 682nd Engineer Battalion, her first year has taught her resilience. 2022 saw her through enlistment, graduation of basic training and advanced individual training, and integration into her first unit.  

“Serving in the Minnesota National Guard has taught me that sometimes things are going to be tough, but you have to keep pushing through — there is no giving up or backing down,” said Otto. “This helps me with my military life, as well as my civilian life.” 
As a 2021 Mora High School graduate, Otto sought out military service for two reasons — to fulfill a childhood dream and to finance another. 

“Ever since I was a kid, I have always wanted to serve in the military. As I got older, I also realized that I wanted to have the college experience as well, and the National Guard is the best of both worlds,” explained Otto. 

She is now a full-time student of criminology in her second year at the University of Minnesota Duluth. Otto continues to set her sights high by adding a minor in psychology to her class load in addition to preparing to take her emergency medical technician certification this spring. 

“I think serving in the military has helped me greatly, in being strong,” said Otto. “During the process of basic and advanced individual training, I got into really good shape and always was pushed to be at my best, which I think helped me grow. I think the process made me stronger mentally and physically, as I did things I never thought I could’ve done.” 

At the start of 2023, Otto is feeling positive about what the year ahead will bring. 

“My favorite part about joining the Minnesota National Guard would honestly be meeting my friends. I met people that I consider my best friends that I will never forget,” said Otto. “I look forward to running equipment in the upcoming year and doing some hands-on work with my unit.” 

Staff Sgt. Sydney Mariette 

Minnesota National Guard Public Affairs 

Editor’s note: To gain full insight into how a year of service in the Minnesota National Guard looks, the Minnesota National Guard Public Affairs team will be sharing the experiences of four service members periodically throughout 2023, all of whom are at different stages of their careers. For Otto, her journey will focus on diving into the new world of military service during her first enlistment.