From Quad to Commission: Kristen Northrop Reflects on Raising 2 US Army Officers at Syracuse University

This story was originally posted by Syracuse University News on Dec. 1, 2023

While her sons were training to become officers in the military, Kristen Northrop had a rare vantage point to observe their development from her office at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.

Two of Kristen’s three sons, William Northrop ’19 and John Northrop ’22, contracted through the U.S. Army Reserve Officer Training Corps, a career path that Kristen says neither she nor her husband anticipated early on. It wasn’t until high school that it became apparent their middle son might follow in the footsteps of his grandfathers and enter military service.

8 people, 3 in military uniforms, stand together and smile for the camera
The Northrop family, from left to right: William, Gabby (William’s wife), Dana, John, Kristen and EJ with grandparents Janet and Ed Heinrich

“Both my father and my husband’s father served. My father was in the Air Force; my father-in-law was a Marine. Both were Cold War vets,” says Northrop, assistant director of the Office of Research and Creative Activity at the Newhouse School. “Both our families grew up with an admiration and respect for the military that was obviously passed down to our boys.”

The Northrop brothers came to Syracuse University after growing up in nearby Camillus. Kristen had taken a job at the University to take advantage of the dependent tuition benefits offered to employees. Kristen’s husband, Dana, had graduated from the University in 1986 and worked in the Central New York region.

All three of their sons attended the University, but each pursued widely different degrees. Kristen’s oldest son, E.J., graduated from in 2018 and now teaches at the nearby Public Service Leadership Academy at Fowler High School with the Syracuse City School District.

two military personnel participate in a training exercise in the woods
Brothers William (left) and John Northrop participate in a field training exercise with the Stalwart Battalion.

William, her middle son, graduated from the College of Engineering and Computer Science with a degree in civil engineering. John, the youngest of the brothers, graduated with a degree in sociology from the College of Arts and Sciences. Both William and John also contracted with the Stalwart Battalion and are now serving in the U.S. Army as commissioned officers.

“Early in Will’s time in high school, he went to a lacrosse camp at West Point Military Academy. He’s always liked a very structured environment and has a ‘Type A’ personality,” Kristen says. “Later, he went to Boys State and really liked that regiment; the routine and detail of it all but not the politics.”

While the boys attended games and other events on campus while growing up, Syracuse wasn’t an automatic choice for them. During his junior year of high school, William toured the campus and spoke with Eric Schaertl, the recruiting operations officer for Stalwart Battalion. After seeing the resources and opportunities available to students, he solidified his choice for which direction he would go in life.