Humans of UD: Gabriella Capizzi


Senior politics major Gabriella Capizzi — Gabs for short — presents a striking image on the University of Dallas campus on Tuesdays and Thursdays. You may have a difficult time spotting her, though, as she is typically dressed in her camouflage Army Combat Uniform in preparation for her Reserve Officers’ Training Corp class and lab at the University of Texas at Arlington. Capizzi describes her ROTC class as “a normal class, but just about Army things.” 

In class, the 110 cadets from UTA and participating satellite schools like UD, Southern Methodist University and Dallas Baptist University,  are instructed by Army officers and non-commissioned officers in military topics such as battlefield tactics and the development of leadership skills. These in-class sessions are complemented by weekly labs, an opportunity to apply the skills learned in the classroom in more concrete settings. 

The ultimate goal of the UTA Army ROTC program, or Maverick Battalion as it is also known, is to prepare cadets to serve as successful officers in the United States Army, Army Reserve or Army National Guard.

While Capizzi participates and excels in all the demanding, standard activities expected of any ROTC cadet, the full reach of her responsibilities extends well beyond these. She serves as the Maverick Battalion’s Commander, meaning she is the highest ranking cadet in the battalion, holding the rank of Cadet Lieutenant Colonel. 

In her role as Battalion Commander, Capizzi has the ultimate responsibility for the training of all cadets in the battalion. Chief among these goals is to prepare cadets for Cadet Summer Training, a five-week summer program at Fort Knox that is, in many ways, the capstone of the ROTC program. CST’s five weeks consists of various tasks and events to assess a cadet’s abilities as a leader in tactical situations. 

Events include nighttime land navigation —compass and map reading—, completing obstacle courses and rappelling from a 60 foot high tower. However, it is ultimately 12 days in the field during CST which are most determinative of how a cadet is assessed. During this time, cadets are expected to carry their rifle along with a weighted rucksack for days on end while completing simulated missions that would be expected of an infantry platoon. 

Recently, her responsibilities as a leader came to the fore during the Groundhog week snowdays. It was Capizzi’s responsibility to check in on her cadets and ensure they had running water and sufficient shelter from the cold. 

She explained her role as Battalion Commander, saying: “You have to care for and take charge of your people in a way that you don’t have to as a typical college student. You’re all on a team, and you are responsible for the wellbeing of the other people involved.” 

For anyone familiar with Capizzi’s personal history, though, her willingness to take on tough tasks like this, particularly in a military context, should come as no surprise. 

Her first encounter with the military was through a close family friend, Army Ranger David Long. Capizzi said, “He was my only relationship to the military, and he instilled in me a sense of the importance of service to others.” 

Capizzi would ultimately know for certain that a military career was in her future when she fell in love with the Naval Academy in seventh grade. Her father was a teaching fellow there while on sabbatical, and while touring the campus, the discipline among the student body and the academy’s emphasis on service attracted her. 

In hopes of attaining this goal, Capizzi pursued an Army ROTC scholarship, the reception of which enabled her to have her pick of any school with an Army ROTC program in the country. She would follow her mom, Mary, and sister, Margaret, in coming to UD, a school where she knew she’d be able to develop meaningful relationships with her professors and peers.  

While her other siblings have so far chosen other schools to attend, two of her sisters have also ultimately decided on careers in the military. Her older sister, Anna-Sophia, recently commissioned as an officer in the Army and is currently training to be a doctor at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. One of her younger sisters, Juliana, is in the Army ROTC program while also studying biomedical engineering at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. 

Once Capizzi’s time at UD wraps up this spring, she will commission as an officer in the Military Intelligence Corps, the primary intelligence branch of the US Army. This role will allow her to pursue a number of her interests, such as learning about other cultures, peoples, and languages, and especially learning how their political institutions function. 

Capizzi views her relationship with the military as having opened up a number of doors to pursue her interests. For instance, she was able to study Arabic for free at the Qasid Institute of Jordan through ROTC’s ProjectGO initiative, although the time she was hoping to spend in Jordan was ultimately made impossible by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to her interest in politics and culture, every student who went to the Groundhog party in the park experienced another one of Capizzi’s greatest passions — and talents, as anyone who had the privilege of hearing her knows — singing. While she played classical piano for 11 years in her childhood, Capizzi ultimately fell in love with jazz singing while in high school. 

Some artists she particularly enjoys are Jenny Lewis and The Kinks, though she cites her biggest influences as Amy Winehouse and Ella Fitzgerald. Her first exposure to jazz singing came at a much earlier age than high school. Although this author’s opinion is that the finest Christmas album ever created is Michael Bublé’s 2011 effort “Christmas,” Capizzi remembers her dad always playing Ella Fitzgerald’s Christmas album around the house during the Christmas season. 

Capizzi can often be seen singing with various jazz groups at spots in the Dallas area, most recently singing at the Reveler’s Hall in the Bishop Arts area of downtown.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here