For Active-Duty Army Major, single mother of two boys, and University of Colorado College of Nursing graduate student pursuing a Doctor of Nursing Practice and Master of Public Health degrees at Anschutz Medical Campus, Molly Bried exemplifies the US Army slogan “Be all you can be.”
Molly Bried and siblings
Adopted as a baby from Korea into a large East Coast family, Bried didn’t realize she wasn’t white until she was about seven years old. “I really didn’t think anything of it. I have an older brother who was adopted from India when he was six. So, our household was quite mixed.” Her parents, who are Caucasian, welcomed them all and managed to raise five kids on a nurse and mechanic’s salaries. “Which was quite a feat,” says Bried.
Nursing career came naturally, military not so much
“I got my work ethic, compassion, empathy, and skills I utilize as a nurse from my family,” says Bried, whose mother was a neonatal nurse who recently retired after 40 years on the job. “I guess you could say that I came by nursing naturally.”
Never did she imagine she would pursue a military career, though. It was a bit of a fluke that she joined up. When her father took her to college orientation during her freshman year at James Madison University, she came across the ROTC booth and was asked if she wanted to take fun classes and get paid for them. “They hooked me on the stipend but forgot to mention that I’d be waking up at 5 a.m. for PT! I fell in love with the principles.” When her mother found out, she was not pleased but eventually came around. “My dad gets ribbed about it a lot,” says Bried.
Childhood prepared her for Army life
Major Molly Bried at ceremony
“I came from a strict household where duty and respect were ingrained. The principles in the Army were not a big change or a stretch for me. And I have found what I love to do and where I belong,” says Bried.
Bried recommends military life to people who don’t mind ‘last minute,’ as deployments and moves based on the needs of the Army can come together quickly. According to Bried, “There are so many opportunities. The Army is paying for my schooling and sent me to get this degree. I am extremely grateful.”
The military allows you to apply to a school of your choice, either a civilian or military school. “In the military, you can get tunnel vision in how the military does things. Choosing a non-military school allowed me to see things a bit differently.” A major advantage of enrolling in an advanced degree while serving is that the military allows service members to devote 100% of their time to their studies while receiving a paycheck. “I chose the University of Colorado College of Nursing because it was one of the schools that offered a dual degree within three years. The one word I think sums up CU is ‘kind’,” says Bried.
Undertaking an advanced degree, getting a divorce, and re-acclimating to the civilian community after a year overseas in Korea – and doing that during a pandemic was challenging. Bried says she couldn’t have done it without support from family, friends, the military, and CU.
Immediately before enrolling in CU Nursing’s dual degree program, Bried was the lead public health nurse in Area 4 Korea, where she met her birth mother while stationed there. It was another serendipitous moment as she knew someone who worked in adoption, who helped locate her birth mother.
When she met her biological mother, she discovered why she was adopted and that she has quite a few siblings. “With tears in her eyes, she tried to explain why they gave me up. While my mother was pregnant with me, my father was in a factory fire. They were afraid that he wouldn’t be able to work and provide for the family. They wanted me to have a better life.”
During their reunion, “I told her she made the right decision. I’ve had a good life. One that I probably wouldn’t have had if I had not been adopted.”
Diane and Molly's boys Keo and Kai go in for a group hug.
Positive Outlook Shapes Her Philosophy
Bried tries to see the positive side and doesn’t dwell on the negative. Her philosophy that “life doesn’t revolve around you” is foundational to who she is and what she is trying to instill in her young sons – Keo and Kai.
As a family, they volunteer for Compassion International and Aging Resources of Douglas County, which Bried credits with introducing them to their best friend Dianne -- who is 80 years young. Bried and the boys visit frequently, play games with her, and do craft activities like dyeing Easter eggs. “It’s fun to share that with them and teach some good life lessons along the way,” says Bried.
After she accepts her degrees she will be moving back to the East Coast and reporting to the Army Public Health Center in Aberdeen, Maryland, where she’s excited about being surrounded by family and friends again. “I plan on utilizing my degrees for research and policy development.” She will continue to grow and of course “Be all that she can be.”