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First Women To Graduate From Army Ranger School Say They “Were Contributing As Much As The Men”

Capt. Kristen Griest and Lt. Shaye Haver, the first two women to earn Ranger Tabs, talked about their experiences in the Army Ranger School during a press conference on Thursday.

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Lt. Shaye Haver and Capt. Kristen Griest address the media the day before their graduation from Army Ranger School.

The two students who will become the first ever women to cross the stage at Army Ranger School graduation addressed the media on Thursday and talked about their experiences during the rigorous course.

Capt. Kristen Griest and Lt. Shaye Haver, who both graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in New York, are primed to make history Friday when they graduate from U.S. Army Ranger School in Fort Benning, Georgia.

They joined six other male students to discuss what it was like to comprise the first ever Ranger class that included women.

"It's awesome to be part of the history of Ranger School in general, probably will be one of the highlights of my life," Haver said.

Griest said she knew she wanted to go to Ranger School ever since she was a student at West Point, and that she, like all the other men in her class, simply wanted to "be a better leader and improve myself."

The graduating women appeared to differ slightly in their awareness of the impact their accomplishments had on other women considering Ranger School.

Haver, who considers herself an army brat, said she hoped other women would be "encouraged by the legacy of the course," rather than the fact that women had graduated from the school.

When asked about the possibility of internal pressure to pass the course, Griest said she often thought about "future generations of women," and wanted them to have this opportunity.

Their male counterparts consistently maintained throughout the press conference that both Haver and Griest proved themselves during the three rigorous courses, which took them through forests, mountains, and swamps in Georgia and Florida.

One male student, Michael Calderon, said that the extreme physical and mental conditions the service members were exposed to made things like gender seem arbitrary.

"You're way too tired and hungry to actually care," he said. "At the end of the day, everyone was a Ranger."

The male students also recalled times where Haver and Griest stepped up when all the other men did not.

Ranger student Zachary Wagner said he was once assigned to carry a heavy load during a course and turned to his fellow service members to ease his load.

He went down the line of his team asking for help. He was met with silence until he reached Griest.

"She, just as broken and tired, took it from me almost with excitement," he said. "I thought she was crazy for that, but she's just enthusiastic. That's who she is."

Haver, a former soccer player who idolized Mia Hamm, emphasized that her mindset coming into the training was no different than that of her male peers.

"We didn't come in with a chip on our shoulders," she said. "With each event that we succeeded in, we won hearts and minds as we went."

Tamerra Griffin is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based Nairobi, Kenya.

Contact Tamerra Griffin at tamerra.griffin@buzzfeed.com.

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