Cera Olsen

“I don’t like to be bored,” Cera Olson says wryly, understating her long list of activities.

For most people being a student in electrical and computer engineering and an Army ROTC cadet would keep them plenty busy, but she is also an academic peer advisor in the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, the president of the OSU Event Team, the vice president of OSU chapter of the Society for American Military Engineers, and the operations officer for her ROTC Battalion which means she arranges all of their activities.

And yet with all those responsibilities she still finds time to train for half-marathons and compete in three-day eventing — a sport that combines dressage, cross-country and show jumping.

It’s no wonder her day starts at 5 a.m. “Except on the weekends, then I allow myself to sleep in until 7.”

She credits her horse, Ender, with keeping her balanced. “He keeps me sane. Any time I feel too overwhelmed with school, I have to go see my horse. I go out and ride and then everything is better,” she says.

Cera Olsen rides her horse during an event."Any time I feel too overwhelmed with school, I have to go see my horse. I go out and ride and then everything is better,” Cera Olsen says.

Riding since she was 8, Olson has been training horses most of her life — but Ender is special. “We just clicked, and I don’t plan on selling him anytime soon,” she says. So there was no question he would come with her when she moved to Corvallis from Port Orchard, Washington.

In fact, she had intended to study to be a veterinarian. After working as a vet tech for a year before she started school, she decided she didn’t love it enough to work the long hours required for the job.

“Math has always been my favorite subject and so I found electrical and computer engineering was a good fit for me. I can do math without having to do proofs and instead apply it to something,” she says.

Her focus and dedication has paid off, and she will be commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army when she graduates. In July she will start training at Fort Gordon, Ga. to manage the Army's communication systems. After that she will report to her first duty station at Fort Stewart, Ga., where her horse will join her.

 “I'm really excited. I got my first branch choice, and I already have a job!” she says.

Somehow she still manages to have some fun too. She loves to play soccer and squeezes in a Zumba class when she can. And every Wednesday night is game night with her friends.

Through it all she keeps her focus on what’s most important to her.

“My family and friends are a strong base of support for me, and when I have trouble I know I can go to them. My future career is also very important. I like having goals to work towards, because if I don’t have focus I tend to get antsy. Keeping busy definitely helps me stay organized,” she says.

—By Rachel Robertson