By MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson
Dickinson’s Memorial Hall has seen many new beginnings over the years—it’s the place where all Dickinson students sign in to the college during Convocation, and the place from which they emerge on graduation day. Last week, it also provided a meaningful backdrop during another important life marker, as four students in Dickinson’s Blue Mountain Battalion ROTC program celebrated their transition from civilian to military life.
"This is the beginning of an eight-year journey, so it's a big deal for us," said Jacob Gery '17. "So it's good to see family and friends here to show their support."
Less than a year after enrolling in Dickinson's military-science program, Gery and fellow class of 2017 members Jacob Grant, Brian Reid and Kirsten Walsh are ready to commit to eight years of service in exchange for full scholarships and military and leadership training. The contracting ceremony, held April 15, signified their official entry into the U.S. Army.
"Each of these future leaders has demonstrated not only the academic achievements and athletic ability they need to be officers, but also the leadership potential," noted Professor of Military Science Lt. Col. Paul Culberson, "and it means a lot to me, and to their families, to be here and honor them today."
Gery, Grant, Reid and Walsh are part of a long tradition. Dickinson's ROTC program serves students from four regional colleges and universities and has trained hundreds of future officers since its founding in 1952. According to Senior Military Instructor Ret. Lt. Col. Erik Rodney, however, the 2014 ceremony departed from the norm, as the first in recent memory to be held in Memorial Hall, rather than at the ROTC House, and the first to include official congratulatory remarks by the college president. The students will be formally commissioned to the Army as seniors.
"It’s really nice to be recognized in this way by the president," said Walsh, whose mother and field-hockey teammates came to cheer her on. "It tells me that the college values what we do."
Speaking to the students, President Nancy Roseman noted that Gery, Grant, Reid and Walsh exemplify the breadth of disciplines represented in the Dickinson ROTC program and praised the students' accomplishments thus far. "In so many ways, you represent the future of Dickinson and our nation," she added.
Grant's mother and grandfather, Melissa and Lou Diamond, traveled from Maryland to attend the ceremony, and they couldn't have been prouder. "Jacob has wanted to be in the Army since he was a kid," said Lou, a retired Army captain. "He's a hero in my eyes, because he's doing what he feels is right for him."
Published April 22, 2014