Master Corporal Alexandria Ellins is a combat engineer with 2 Combat Engineer Regiment, based at Garrison Petawawa.
Ellins joined the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) after participating in the Air Cadet program for seven years. She knew she was looking for a career that offered the same level of discipline and a career that continuously placed challenges in front of her.
“I chose to be a combat engineer specifically because nobody thought that I had what it took, and I wanted to prove to myself that I could achieve anything that I put my mind to,” said MCpl Ellins.
Combat engineers ensure that troops can live, move and fight on the battlefield.
The responsibilities of combat engineers can include providing drinking water by constructing local distribution systems, detection and disposal of mines and bulk explosives, constructing or demolishing roads, bridges, airfields, laying minefields, and the maintenance and operation of weapons, vehicles, heavy equipment and supplies.
Since joining the CAF Ellins, has topped two of her career courses leaving no doubt in the eyes of her colleagues that she is cut out for her very challenging profession.
Still in her early twenties, Ellins credits her highly developed level of discipline, dedication, and strong work ethic to her decision to become a combat engineer. In her opinion, the majority of women her age simply do not share these characteristics.
“The skill I learned in the military that I value most is my self-confidence. I was a very shy and an unsure person when I joined six years ago, but the military has brought me out of my shell and helped me to feel confident in my abilities. I feel that the military provides an environment to foster this, which is not found in most other professions,” said MCpl Ellins.
Her favourite part of the job can also be her least favourite.
Ellins enjoys the travel opportunities her career in the CAF provides. She also likes to experience new things and appreciates a routine that varies constantly. Travel and changing routine are a double-edged sword, as the amount of time she spends away can place a strain on family life and routines at home.
When asked to give advice to a young woman considering joining the Canadian Army Ellins readily speaks of the amazing opportunities a military career offers, but also advises caution when choosing a trade, specifically if they are leaning towards a career in combat arms.
In her opinion, it takes a woman with a lot of grit and a certain sense of humour to be able to thrive in a trade that is traditionally male dominated. Ellins is a strong supporter of having women in combat arms trades, but only if they can make the cut.
As a female combat engineer Ellins has always pushed herself to be as physically and mentally as strong her male counterparts, and this drive has largely contributed to her success in a trade where women are few and far between.
Get More! Receive six issues of Canadian Military Family Magazine in your mail box for only $17.95! Click here to subscribe NOW!