GW Alumna Serves as Military Mentor for U.S. Senate Youth Program

Capt. Catherine Grizzle was one of 17 officers selected to join the program’s Washington Week 2024.

May 21, 2024

Catherine Grizzle

U.S. Army Capt. Catherine Grizzle, M.A. ‘24, was one of just 17 Armed Forces officers selected to serve as a Military Mentor for the U.S. Senate Youth Program.

U.S. Army Capt. Catherine Grizzle, M.A. ‘24, was one of just 17 Armed Forces officers selected to serve as a Military Mentor for the U.S. Senate Youth Program’s Washington Week 2024.

“It was super exciting because I was selected in 2022, but the event was virtual because of the pandemic,” explained Grizzle. “So to have the opportunity to be involved again, this time in person, was really special.”

Throughout the week, the student delegates—two from each state—heard major policy addresses by senators, cabinet members and other officials, and participated in meetings with the president and a justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Grizzle said she and the 16 other Miliary Mentors provided guidance and support to the students during their time in the nation’s capital last month.

“We represented the Department of Defense and led these exceptional delegates through the week, setting expectations and offering mentorship,” she said. “But we’re not there for just Washington Week; we’re there for them for life. So wherever they go and whatever path in life they choose, we’re there for them.”

As for Grizzle’s own journey, the Springfield, Va., native felt called to join the military shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, when she drove past the Pentagon and saw it adorned with a massive American flag in remembrance of the terrorist attacks.

“It was a really powerful image and very powerful memory of mine,” she said. “And I think living in this area and seeing the camaraderie of people coming together for a common cause really motivated me to join the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets, my undergrad program, and really find my voice and what it really means to serve.”

After graduating from Virginia Tech in 2014, Grizzle was commissioned as an active-duty 2nd Lieutenant in Field Artillery—the only combat arms branch open to women at the time. Three years later, she was deployed to Iraq, first under Operation Spartan Shield, then later under Operation Inherent Resolve.

“I deployed as a battery executive officer, but I ended up being an acting commander on the ground in Iraq,” she recalled. “So I was a commander in charge of 30 individuals on the ground. Our operation was to have artillery ‘in position ready to fire.’

“And it was an enlightening experience,” she added. “Especially since I was only 25 at the time.”

Grizzle graduated this month with her master’s in organizational leadership and learning from the Graduate School of Education and Human Development. She said the skills she learned in her program will help her on her next mission as an instructor at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

“My time at GW has equipped me with the knowledge and skills to lead and inspire future generations of cadets,” she said. “I’m excited to continue my journey of mentorship and leadership at such a prestigious institution.”

As she prepares to embark on her new role, Grizzle offers advice to students considering military service: “Trust your instincts and make your decision based on careful consideration of your goals, values and aspirations.”