Purdue rower skips commissioning, graduation for Dad Vail Regatta

Posted: May 11, 2011

This was no easy decision for Rachel Young, a senior rower at Purdue, one of the favorites at this weekend's Dad Vail Regatta. Young admitted to being "devastated" when she realized she had to choose between the Dad Vail and staying at Purdue to take part in her U.S. Army commissioning ceremony.

If Young chose to row, she would also miss Purdue's graduation ceremony.

"It was a rough call for all of us, but for the love of this team, this sport, it makes it so much more special of a race being here this weekend," Young said in an e-mail. "For me, I don't necessarily need a cap and gown walk to feel as though I graduated, but I did know I wanted some type of recognition for my commissioning ceremony that I will be missing."

So she's coming. She's rowing, and she'll also be commissioned this weekend, on the banks of the Schuylkill. It turns out that once you are commissioned, you are allowed to perform a commissioning. That's what will happen: Three of Young's friends will get in a car Friday after the commissioning ceremony in West Lafayette, Ind., planning to make it to Philly in time for one of them to commission Young on Saturday.

"The three gentlemen coming to the race are my best friends," Young said. "One will have [been] just commissioned the day before with the rest of the graduates: His name is Joe Park. One other is Ian Soderling, who has another semester of school left then also will commission into the U.S. Army. Alexander Dehr used to be in the ROTC program with us but was medically disqualified; we still consider him one of 'the guys.' "

Young lived the first few years of her life in Brookhaven, Delaware County. Her father is a minister and pastor of a church in Blue Bell. So she'll have local support and long-distance support and a weekend on the river that she'll never forget.

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Contact staff writer Mike Jensen at 215-854-4489 or mjensen@phillynews.com.

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