Alumni News: Army Capt. Erin Muri focuses her passion for learning on trauma, mental health
Topics like prison systems, sexual trauma, diversity, and sociological patterns in serial murders ignited Erin Muri's passion for learning when she was an undergraduate sociology student at Ohio University.
Now she's a captain in the U.S. Army at Fort Carson in Colorado, where she's found a special interest in mental health and trauma, especially trauma that she encounters among fellow soldiers.
Muri’s experiences in the Army in the Middle East, particularly her involvement as one of the first women in ground combat roles as an armored division officer, have made her acutely aware of the impact of trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder.
"I have always been eager to help others and have chosen my career and desired future career paths based on that. I joined the United States Army because I want to help others and contribute to a bigger picture scenario," said Muri, who earned a B.A. in Sociology-Criminology with a political science minor from the College of Arts and Sciences in 2017.
"When I was deployed in 2019, I noticed how the soldiers in my unit managed stress and handled trauma or challenging experiences. I saw that their responses were incredibly different, which had me asking myself, 'Why?' This observation sparked an interest in me to learn everything I could about mental health."
Muri recently finished a master’s degree in human services counseling with a concentration on trauma and crisis response from Liberty University and hopes to embark on a clinical psychology Ph.D. in the near future.
Muri's success in graduate school comes as no surprise to Dr. Nicole Kaufman, associate professor of sociology in the College of Arts and Sciences.
"Erin is a tremendously impactful OHIO alum. She is dedicated to public service and the well-being of her fellow soldiers and their families, and she is among the first women to serve in ground combat roles. In her OHIO days, her academic performance was exemplary. She was on the dean’s list for five semesters, all while balancing her leadership role in ROTC and two part-time jobs. She graduated cum laude and was a Distinguished Military Graduate. Her class participation was outstanding."
During Muri's senior year, Kaufman nominated her for three campus leadership awards based on her service in the ROTC (including Cadet Battalion Commander) and her leadership. "Having now earned a master's degree, Erin continues to be interested in social science research on prison systems, sexual trauma, and diversity, of which she said, 'These areas of study ignite a fire inside of me, and I can’t seem to learn enough when researching these topics.” She is especially interested in how to deliver adequate mental health response to crises ranging from combat to sexual assault."
Q&A with Erin Muri
Q: Who were your favorite professors and how did they make an impact on your life?
A: All of the professors that I had the pleasure of learning from were incredible; however, there were two women at Ohio University who shaped me educationally and into the woman that I am today.
Dr. Kaufman was an irreplaceable figure throughout my sociology degree and educational career at Ohio University. Dr. Kaufman was never afraid to entertain any and all questions throughout her class, demonstrating her immense level of knowledge and confidence in all subjects taught. Dr. Kaufman showed such a strong interest in her work that the passion she had for sociology and learning was contagious. I continue to have a strong desire to learn about sociological issues because Dr. Kaufman created that desire and drive inside of me through her teaching. Sociology students will move forward with an advantage with Dr. Kaufman as their professor.
Dr. Nukhet Sandal was one of the most influential professors I have had in my educational career and life as a young woman. Dr. Sandal’s success, knowledge, and ease with which she taught made me incredibly proud to have been one of her students. Dr. Sandal challenged each of her students greatly but ensured that they were prepared to their fullest extent throughout their time as students. Dr. Sandal helped to build the educational foundation that I needed while obtaining my bachelor’s degree—and that I needed to carry forward throughout my life and future educational endeavors. Dr. Sandal instilled in me a passion to always keep learning. Her successes, methods, teachings, and personality made her one of the most impactful role models in my life.
Both of these women have mentored and guided me throughout my educational career and are incredible role models that I respect and cherish to this day.
Q: Do you still keep in touch with any of your faculty?
A: Yes, I do! Dr. Kaufman continued to create time in her busy schedule to mentor me through future educational decisions. I also speak to Dr. Sandal on and off and admire her continued hard work and success from afar (and comment on her Facebook posts about Turkish food and how delicious it looks).
Q: What was your ah-ha moment at OHIO—that point where you said to yourself, “I’ve got this!”?
A: Hmmmmm… Truly when I joined ROTC I finally realized that I was capable of success if I put enough drive behind it. I really needed the structure and motivation to learn how to be a good academic student and ROTC—and the friends I formed through ROTC—helped me immensely with that. I think that when I realized how important time management and prioritization was (and how to properly study) it seemed to “click” for me. For me, academics didn’t come easily, and I really had to work at it, but once I put the effort into learning skills for academic success it became easier, which made me more passionate about my work.
Q: What was the hardest hill you had to climb (not counting Jeff Hill) at OHIO? And how did you overcome challenges or obstacles in your path?
A: Freshmen year was absolutely the hardest hill to climb (however Jeff Hill is a close second). I came into college incredibly unprepared in the academic sense. I wasn’t sure what it meant to achieve academic success, and I definitely didn’t come into college with the skills on how to get there. I enrolled in ROTC the spring of my freshmen year, where I was thrown into a group of hardworking individuals who cared about success and pushed each other to succeed. This was a huge moment for me because I made the conscious decision to surround myself with people who would push me to be my best in all realms—academically, physically, emotionally, and socially. Setting goals for myself that were attainable over a specific timeline and surrounding myself with people, professors, and ROTC instructors who held me accountable made all the difference in my career at Ohio University.
Q: What are your favorite OHIO memories?
A: ALL OF THEM. I miss walking down Court Street at any point in the year during the day. That street always brought a sense of calm to me because I really felt at home. I will always treasure the days and nights I spent in Court Street Coffee or Donkey Coffee while studying or decompressing after class. I will always treasure the events that OHIO hosted—concerts and fall festivals, for example. I will always be fortunate for the football games, the events I participated in and ran as an Ohio University Army ROTC cadet, the opportunities to form a community through your residence hall. The front 4 went to D.C. while I was a student, and it was my first time to D.C. and one of the BEST trips I have ever been on.
All that said, the jumbled mess of events I just listed don’t even scratch the surface on what I miss about OHIO and what I’ll remember forever. OHIO changed my life for the better, and it makes me so happy knowing the thousands of future students that will also have their lives changed!
Q: What’s the one thing you would tell a new OHIO student not to miss?
A: Try to get out there and take advantage of as many social and academic opportunities that OHIO has to offer!!
Events hosted by OHIO, joining clubs, making new friends, and pushing yourself academically through tutoring or learning communities are just a few examples. When you leave OHIO, you will look back on all of the things you were able to do and how much you have grown as a person individually and academically. Take advantage of EVERYTHING that OHIO has to offer so that you don’t look back one day and wish you did go to that free concert on the College Green even if your friends didn’t want to. You will not regret it, and you will absolutely be better for it!