PC SCE Student and “Best Warrior” Aims to Combine Leadership with Military Skills to Build a Winning Future
At just 21 years old, Yanni Tsiranides already has a laser-sharp focus on what he wants his future to hold, and he’s already earned a distinction that only a select few will ever achieve – the title of “Best Warrior.”
Tsiranides, who’s currently pursuing a degree in Leadership Development at Providence College School of Continuing Education (SCE), is also a reservist with the Army Reserve’s 411th Civil Affairs Battalion and a member of the Patriot Battalion Army ROTC based at PC. Last November he beat out more than 3,000 other Army Reservists in the 353rd Civil Affairs Command (CACOM) annual Best Warrior competition and was named the 353rd CACOM 2017 Soldier of the Year.
The Best Warrior competition is an annual competition overseen by the U.S. Army as a means of identifying and recognizing the highest-performing soldiers in active, Special Operations, National Guard and reserve divisions of the United States Army.
The victory puts Tsiranides in the running to compete in the next phase of competition this April, the U.S. Army Civil Affairs & Psychological Operations Command (Airborne) competition, which ultimately could lead to the nationwide U.S. Army Reserve Best Warrior Competition later this summer.
Winning the title of Soldier of the Year came as a complete surprise to Tsiranides, who’d been enlisted in the reserves for less than one year at the time of the competition.
“I was the lowest ranking person with the shortest time in service, and had previous winners competing against me, so it was a big shock when I won,” Tsiranides says.
What he lacks in experience, however, Tsiranides makes up for in determination and grit. The Norwalk, Connecticut native proved that true during the grueling six-day competition, an intense mental and physical test that took place at Fort McCoy in Wisconsin, October 30 through November 5. The competition includes round-the-clock tests of physical endurance, urban warfare skills and military knowledge.
“We’d wake up at 5 a.m. every day and take a physical fitness test, which included a timed 2-mile run. We did ruck marches, which was a fast six-mile march while carrying a 40-pound backpack in full gear. There were also target shooting competitions during the day and at night, once while wearing a gas mask,” Tsiranides says.
In addition, he had to complete warrior task and battle drills, which included navigating through the woods using a map and compass, knowing how to react to a gas attack, and taking apart and assembling an M240 machine gun as quickly as possible. A written test including 100 multiple choice questions and two essays on army regulations, history and current events was part of the competition as well, along with an interview with a review board consisting of five Seargants Major.
“It’s really nerve-wracking, but it was also amazing. It really upped my confidence,” Tsiranides says. “Coming out of basic training I would have never thought I’d be talking to any of these people [on the review board], never mind having them come up and congratulate me for winning. Wining this competition has been the best time of my life and opened so many doors for me. I love what I’m doing.”
In addition to the next level of the Best Warrior competition, this year Tsirandies is also planning to go to the Army’s Airborne School, a three-week course that will allow him to become a paratrooper.
Beyond that, once he’s graduated from PC Tsiranides will be an officer in the Army and is hoping that the skills he’s learning in ROTC as well as the knowledge he’s gaining in SCE’s Leadership Development program will put him in an excellent position to have a long and fruitful military career.
With that goal in mind, Tsiranides will be transferring to PC’s undergraduate school next Fall so that he can more fully participate in the ROTC program. He says that SCE has been a great match for him to get the journey started and that PC is helping to make his dreams come true.
“PC has a phenomenal ROTC program. I was worried about paying for school but I spoke with Assistant Dean Anne Nagle and she was extremely helpful and made it so easy to get started. I love the school, the staff, and all my teachers here. ROTC has been a brotherhood; because of them I won this competition. PC is an amazing community.”
“I’m really excited about learning techniques for being a good leader. I want to go into active duty after graduation and see how far I can go as an officer in the Army. My goal is to represent my unit, represent my school the best I can. I want to represent where I came from well,” he says.