Mason ROTC Cadets Are Commissioned

Posted: May 25, 2006 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Nicholas Zinzer

Salutes were all around Monday morning as students in Mason’s 2006 senior Army Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) graduate class received an official diploma during their commissioning ceremony.

The nine cadets who successfully completed four years of the Mason ROTC program received an undergraduate diploma, were given a first salute as commissioned officers of the U.S. Army and swore an oath of office.

Linda Schwartzstein, vice provost for academic affairs, told the cadets, “I can attest to your years of academic work here at Mason, and I know that your Mason education has prepared you well for the future.”

The principal speaker at the commissioning was Brig. Gen. Steven Reeves, joint program executive officer of the Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical and Biological Defense.

“For a nation to be successful, its citizens have to be willing to serve,” said Reeves. “To the men and women who are about to be become commissioned officers, our most humble and sincere thanks for your moral and physical determination not only to complete a college degree, but to become a commissioned officer.”

As commissioned officers in the U.S. Army, the cadets have a leg up on other enlisted men and women in terms of career advancement. Mason’s ROTC program prepares students to become second lieutenants, the lowest rank of commissioned officers.

“I’ve been planning [ROTC] for a long time,” says Todd Blanchette, a graduate with a degree in administration of justice. “I don’t have any military family, but after Sept. 11, it changed my heart.”

The newly commissioned second lieutenant plans to serve a four-year term in the Army, then decide whether to stay in as a career or get a job in law enforcement.

Sarah Brown, a rising senior majoring in art and visual technology, is the fiancée of Kevin Williamson, one of the graduating cadets. The four years of ROTC “were a lot of work for him, but it was very exciting,” says Brown.

She plans to finish her last year of college while Williamson serves at Fort Drum in New York. She is prepared to spend time apart from her fiancé because the commissioning is “worth it, and it paid off.”

Ryan Hand, another of the newly commissioned cadets, will initially serve at Fort Lewis, Wash., followed by a stint in Oklahoma for officer leader training. Then he will be stationed at Fort Gordon in Georgia.

The graduate says he improved throughout his four years in the ROTC program at Mason. “Freshman year, we felt like we were sipping through a fire hose because there was a lot of information and a short time to get things in,” says Hand.

However, by senior year, Hand was helping to run the program along with other senior cadets. “Senior year, we ran the battalion along with the cadre and helped out with younger training.”

Commissioning ceremony
Photo by Nicolas Tan

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