September 29, 2020

US Army Captain Catherine Browning - A Townie Profile

EPHS Top Student in 2012 - A Graduate of West Point

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As Catherine Browning was set to graduate from East Providence High School in 2012, her summer plans included getting ready to report to cadet basic training – or “BEAST” training – at West Point Military Academy in New York. Instead of a summer at the beach or other leisure activity before college or work, Browning would be attending prestigious West Point in early July. EPHS’s top ranked senior in 2012 would soon be starting a tough basic training program with the US Army. “Oh yes, I had to complete a full army basic training,” Browning said with a smile when asked. “The military program begins on your first day at West Point. Most military training takes place during the summer, with new cadets undergoing Cadet Basic Training - or Beast Barracks - the first year, followed by Cadet Field Training at nearby Camp Buckner the second year,” Browning explained.

The United States government has a description for West Point. “The Academy is renowned as the world’s premier leader development institution, and accomplishes its mission by developing cadets intellectually, physically, militarily, ethically, spiritually, and socially. The student body, or Corps of Cadets, numbers 4,400 and each year approximately 1000 cadets join the Long Gray Line as they graduate and are commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army.” Cadets spend their third and fourth summers serving in active Army units around the world; attending advanced training courses such as airborne, air assault or northern warfare; or training the first and second year cadets as members of the leadership cadre.

Catherine Browning excelled at West Point as she did at EPHS. She graduated from West Point in 2016 as a Captain and Medical Services Officer and is currently assigned to the Third Infantry Division based out of Fort Stewart, GA. From October 2016 to October 2017 Captain Browning was stationed in Camp Casey, South Korea. While in Fort Stewart, she served as the Treatment Platoon Leader and Executive Officer for the Medical Company supporting more than 4000 Soldiers in the 2nd Armored Brigade. “I'm currently the Brigade Support Coordination Cell Medical Officer. We're forward deployed to Poland,” Browning told the Reporter in an interview last month. “We were supposed to return late May to early June but due to COVID19 we've assumed the Regionally Aligned Forces mission and will stay in Europe for 9 months,” she added.

Browning was nominated by United States Senator Jack Reed and was one of only 4 or 5 Rhode Islanders to enroll at West Point in 2012. A top high school student, she was accepted at Brown University and Brandeis as well as just about any college or university she could choose. She was a recipient of an ROTC scholarship which would apply to any school with an ROTC program. But in the end, Browning chose to serve in the military and to do so at West Point. “I looked into the Coast Guard and Naval Academy, but it was West Point and the army which appealed to me the most,” Browning said. The Reporter talked with Browning during her senior year at EPHS. When asked if she was ready for the tough regiment ahead, Browning smiled slightly and said, “they’ll (army) help me get ready. I will have many educational and job opportunities with West Point.” The enrollment process for West Point is complicated. There are rigorous academic, medical, physical and leadership qualifications that a candidate must possess before even being considered for acceptance. Catherine Browning did not disappoint.

As we met Browning during her last year at EPHS, it was quickly obvious that she was a quiet and humble person as she negotiated the crowded hallways and classrooms. Yet, she was not only the top academic scholar at East Providence High School, but she was a formidable athlete. Browning excelled in Cross-Country, Indoor and Outdoor Track, and has received rowing training and has completed a triathlon. Browning’s top physical condition and sharp intellect would propel her toward West Point education. “Yes, I am prepared to serve my nation and accept deployment anywhere in the world. I plan on making this a life-long career and may consider an eventual future as a doctor or other work in medicine or maybe Neuroscience,” said a contemplative Browning in 2012. “Second Lieutenant is the lowest rank after finishing the Academy. My goal is to aim as high as possible,” Browning added. It appears she met and exceeded that goal.

A member of the 2012 EPHS National and Rhode Island Honor Societies, class Valedictorian, a top athlete and an accomplished musician – are just some of Browning’s many accomplishments to date. In high school she also volunteered in many school and community endeavors and liked to read a lot, keeping up on world news events. Her rigorous academic and athletic schedule held her back a little with her many musical talents but “I did play the jazz guitar and a euphonium (sort of a tuba) and have played a bit with the Rhode Island Philharmonic, but haven’t dwelled on my music much,” she offered.

Browning attended Myron J. Francis Elementary and Edward Martin Middle schools before entering EPHS. “I think East Providence provided me with a great educational opportunity and I made the most of it. School is what you give to learning. I did my best,” she said. “I have no regrets attending EPHS (instead of a private school) and I have lots of people to thank. My parents and family, my teachers, my coaches and people in the community - all have been important to me,” said Browning.

Captain Browning is now proudly serving the nation and had a remarkable experience at West Point. “I was challenged in ways that I had never been challenged before mentally, physically, and academically. I truly failed for the first time and learned the importance and necessity of resilience,” explained Browning. She chuckled as she mentioned favorite and not so favorite memories at the Academy. “I won’t miss things like ‘Military movement” (a quasi-gymnastics class), SAMI mornings, Cadet Field Training and losing four Army-Navy games in a row. My best memories include anything to do with the Army Crew Team, graduation and commissioning day, and the Army-Navy game.”

“The friends I made at West Point are some of the most amazing and talented people I know. They are the epitome of selfless leaders and I'm proud to serve in the Army alongside them because I know that they represent the positive change that we need,” she added.

As far as EPHS goes, Browning said that she can recommend her alma mater to anyone. “The school offers much, you must work hard and give back,” she said. Her former high school track coach, Bob Duarte, speaks effusively about his former start athlete. “I can honestly say that Catherine might be the finest student athlete that I have had the honor of coaching. She was a 6-season captain, JR & SR Cross Country, Indoor and Outdoor Track. She is an extremely hard worker that has dealt with a lot of setbacks because of injury,” Duarte continued. As a freshman, Browning was one of the state’s top distance runners. Injuries may have kept Browning from being one of the best high school athletes in a long time.”

Indeed, US Army Captain Catherine Browning has been a humble, yet shining star from her accomplishments in East Providence, RI to her global contributions as a graduate of West Point Military Academy. Truly a “Profile in Townie Pride.”

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