Army ROTC creates Cadet of the Month program honors ‘outstanding’ cadets


By Dominic Spizzirri, [email protected]

Cadet Private Benjamin Rurup, left, and Cadet Sergeant Alexandra Gutierrez were awarded the certificate of the month, challenge coin of courage and the battalion commander military award for being ROTC cadet of the month. 

Mackensie Moore

Interviews for Cadet of the Month are not average interviews with questions of skills or job scenarios. They instead focus on a cadet’s body language, overall confidence and knowledge of various aspects of army guidelines and history.

Fourth-year ROTC cadets established the Cadet of the Month program in the fall 2013 semester.

“The purpose of Cadet of the Month is to recognize cadets’ outstanding performance [and] to provide professional development for evaluated cadets and their sponsors,” said Zachary Graham, senior in anthropology and the commander and president on the Cadet of the Month board.

The program has been recognizing two cadets every month during this academic year, basing the decisions on how cadets stand out and go above and beyond ROTC standards.

Cadets who are involved, on and off campus, and show academic discipline and leadership among other cadets are the most likely candidates for nomination. While the board nominates the outstanding cadets, the head of command has the final decision on the official candidates.

Command chooses two first-year ROTC cadets and two second-years; one of those cadets will be named the Cadet of the Month. A second cadet will also be chosen for Cadet of the Month out of three third-year cadets.

Once cadets learn of their nominations, they must choose sponsors from a higher class than themselves. Their sponsors will guide them and help them prepare for the interview. The sponsor will also write a biography about the nominated cadet and present it in front of the Cadet of the Month board before presenting the actual cadet to the board.

“Through the program, the cadets establish a personal connection with their sponsor, and it fosters leadership,” said Jonathan Lazo, senior in political science and head tactical officer on the Cadet of the Month board. “[The program] provides an opportunity for cadets that they won’t have later on.”

The Cadet of the Month board consists of five fourth-year ROTC cadets.

In the interviews, cadets are required to march, salute and answer a series of questions randomly selected from an issued study guide. They are also evaluated on a four-point criterion, which consists of scores on professionalism, leadership potential, confidence and how they prepare themselves.

“The selection board promotes cadets to develop confidence, competence and character while challenging their mental agility and attention to detail,” Graham said.

This occurs every month, and two new cadets are named as the Army ROTC’s Cadets of the Month.

For February, Benjamin Rurup, sophomore in mechanical engineering, was named Cadet of the Month for the first- and second-year cadets, and Alexandra Gutierrez, senior in interdisciplinary studies, was named for the third-year cadets.

“[The process was] stressful and exciting at the same time,” Gutierrez said. “I didn’t know how the process worked, but I was excited because it is nice to be honored for your hard work and dedication.”

The ceremony in their honor was on Feb. 26, awarding each cadet with a certificate of achievement signed by Lt. Col. Richard Smith, professor of military science, as well as the Iowa State ROTC challenge coin and the battalion commander’s award for excellence.