ROTC Cadets receive honors for skills, leadership, dedication


By [email protected]

Lt. Col. Richard Smith prepares cadets to take their oath of office during the ROTC commissioning ceremony held Dec. 20 in the South Ballroom of the Memorial Union.

Kelly Mcgowan

Cadets marched into an Armory classroom to be questioned about their knowledge of military and ROTC doctrine, leadership, history and drills in hopes of winning a Cadet of the Month award.

The awards, given at Army ROTC Leadership Lab on Feb. 4, went to Shannon Writt, junior in biology; Shaylea Foster, junior in interdisciplinary studies and Thomas Wilgenbusch, sophomore in animal science.

Platoon leaders nominated candidates to go before the five-person judging board Jan. 27. Cadets answered questions and recited cadet and soldier creeds, which state commitment to the U.S. and to Army values. Judges ranked answers along with presentation, leadership ability and physical training attendance and scores. 

Foster said in a group of knowledgeable and athletic cadets that it is nice to be noticed.

The award provided cadets a way to see their growth in the program. Writt applied last year and has seen a “crazy difference” in herself since.

“[Last year] I was shaky and nervous. I pretended to be confident; I wasn’t,” she said. “But now I’ve learned things and have become a lot more comfortable in this program. I went in there totally confident, didn’t shake at all. I knew every question that they asked me. I wasn’t nervous.”

Writt overcame nervousness, reluctance and uncertainty to find her place in the program, she said.

Foster had a similar start.

“As an MS1 [a first-year cadet], I came in super shy and timid,” she said. “I didn’t talk to anyone, no one knew who I was. As I went through the program, I gained confidence. I definitely feel like I can accomplish a lot more.”

Chelsea Nicoletto, battalion commander and senior in biology, said teamwork helps because it can be difficult entering ROTC and establishing yourself as a leader.

“We don’t focus on the strong one,” Nicoletto said. “We focus on the strong one helping the weak one, so they are both equally strong.”

First-year cadets like Wilgenbusch can go from standing out in high school to being on a more level playing field with everyone in their battalion, said Lt. Col. Richard Smith, professor of military science and head of Army ROTC. He said this can be humbling.

Wilgenbusch said he appreciates working with a battalion of cadets who share his goals, personal traits and values.

“Our program does have state champions in different sports,” Smith said. “They’re Eagle Scouts, they’re multiple sport varsity athletes. You have to work harder to stand out.”