Alumnae Spotlight: Natalie Kapp & Kara Johnson ’13

The Strength of Shared Roots

By Natalie Kapp ‘13

Kara Johnson ‘13 and I met in our sophomore year at OLP. She sat next to me in Mrs. Danaher’s Honors World Literature class. We got to know each other over the course of our high school careers, but we never spent much time together outside of our shared classes. It was not until senior year that we realized that we would be spending the next four years together at Villanova University in the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps Program. Even though we were going in with starkly different majors – I study mechanical engineering, Kara studies nursing – for the next four years, we would spend more time together than we could have imagined.

We both showed up to Villanova a few days before Freshman Orientation. We were starting our O-Week for Villanova NROTC. It was the start to our battalion’s indoctrination program, India Company, which is an intense program comprising of the first six weeks of our freshman year meant to promote teamwork and prepare us for the next four years of leadership training. Neither of us had any idea what we were in for.

On our first day, as we waited anxiously to say goodbye to our families, we stuck together with the comfort of a familiar face by our side. After that, we were up every morning before 5:00 am for either drill or PT, we had study hours from 7-9:00 pm every night, and were constantly on the lookout for upperclassmen instructors who would yell at us throughout the day. It was an exhausting experience, but eventually we graduated, and earned the privilege of being part of the battalion.

Following India Company, we’ve had time to enjoy ourselves both as college students and friends while continuing our training. We were required to do training cruises over our summer breaks. Kara is a nursing option, so she did a cruise both afloat on an aircraft carrier and at Balboa Naval Hospital to see where her career will take her. I am a conventional Navy option: I did two cruises aboard Navy ships, one underway in the Gulf of Alaska and one in port in San Diego.

In our first semester as seniors, we served together as high-ranking student officers on our unit’s battalion staff: I was the Operations Officer and Kara was the Logistics Officer. I am proud to have a friendship that was fostered at OLP and has grown deeper through shared experience. After graduating, we will both be commissioned in the US Navy as Ensigns: Kara will be a nurse at Portsmouth Naval Hospital in Virginia, and I will be a surface warfare officer on a ship I will select this month. There is a high likelihood that our paths will diverge after graduating, but no matter where our careers take us in the future, we know that we have a unique bond, with roots in the sisterhood that OLP creates.

Kara Johnson (top) and Natalie Kapp (bottom) performing buddy carries during India Company.

Kara and Natalie in Connecticut over spring break of their freshman year.

Kara and Natalie hanging out on a hike while in San Diego over winter break in 2013.

Kara having fun with Pokemon Go during some downtime while volunteering at a 5K she helped organize for the Villanova NROTC unit.