(JACKSON, Miss.) — Thirteen U.S. Army cadets from Jackson State University’s Tiger Battalion will earn the rank of second lieutenants along with 1,000 others during a historic national commissioning ceremony that will be held virtually because of COVID-19.
The largest-ever national Army commissioning will be at 9 a.m. (CDT) Friday, June 12.
Lt. Col. Steven C. Robinson, chair of JSU’s Department of the Army ROTC in the College of Liberal Arts, said U.S. Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy will lead the cadets as they recite the oath.
Also, Robinson said an invitation to family, friends and supporters to join the celebration has been extended by Maj. Gen. John R. Evans Jr., the commanding general of the U.S. Army Cadet Command.
Robinson said, “In today’s COVID-19 environment of social distancing and physical isolation the command’s primary focus is on the health, welfare and safety of our soldiers, civilians, cadets and family members. With this in mind, Cadet Command remains focused on meeting the needs of our nation by commissioning strong and agile leaders of character for our Army.”
Robinson, also a professor of military science, is advising soon-to-be officers to continue developing future relationships with people who can support their careers. “When I entered the Army there were not many people talking about mentorships. I hope these new leaders will seek out those who can help them during their service to the nation.”
Robinson also said the newly minted officers will enter an environment and world stage that may be remarkably different than years past, especially with recent developments related to protests by marchers in the wake of the George Floyd tragedy.
While he acknowledges that’s it’s atypical for U.S. Army troops to partake in domestic missions related to protest marches, for example, he said that the U.S. Army has a responsibility to dutifully carry out orders by the U.S. president and commander in chief.
Meanwhile, Robinson provided words of encouragement to the graduates.
“Stay motivated, and keep your head raised high no matter how hard it gets. Being positive will get you through a lot of things. Also, be yourself but stick to your morals and values.”
This year’s 13 JSU Tiger Battalion cadets represent four colleges and universities in Mississippi:
- Laquana Brumfield, Jackson State University
- Crimson Driver, Mississippi Valley State University
- Elijah Greenfield, Jackson State University
- Jahniah Grimsley, Jackson State University
- Heather Hill, Mississippi College
- Brandon McCall, Mississippi Valley State University
- David Pitchford, Mississippi Valley State University
- Paris Randle, Mississippi College
- Christian Reynolds, Millsaps College
- Gabriel Ryce, Millsaps College
- Stephen Saucier, Mississippi College
- Cynthia Tidwell, Jackson State University
- Dominique Thomas, Jackson State University
Cadet Grimsley, a native of Winter Haven, Florida, recently earned her degree in political science from JSU. She said she never imagined that the commissioning ceremony would be online. “Still, I don’t think it takes away from all that we have accomplished,” she said.
Ultimately, Grimsley said she plan to attend law school at the University of Florida and become a JAG (Judge Advocate Generals Corp) officer. She envisions retiring from the military after 20 years of service.
Cadet Stephen Saucier, a native of Collins, Mississippi, is a recent kinesiology graduate from Mississippi College. He said the virtual commissioning is “completely understandable given the circumstances.” He’s still trying to figure out his longtime career plans as he prepares for his military duties. However, one thing he said he’s certain about is how well JSU prepared him for his journey.
“I appreciate the flexibility of the cadre as we went through our rigorous challenges. I especially appreciate the support of everyone with the Tiger Battalion for making this opportunity possible.”
Below are the links to view Friday’s national commissioning ceremony live:
- YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mHkFQRYy520
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ArmyROTC/live/
Meanwhile, Tiger Battalion leader Robinson shared how he benefited from a military career, and he’s urging others to follow suit.
“Since I’m a structured guy; I like things in order and being on a schedule,” said Robinson, explaining how the Army fostered characteristics such as timeliness, accountability and punctuality.
In addition to those traits, he said the military afforded him the opportunity to travel the world meeting “many wonderful people.” He also said the strong connections built between his comrades and his troops gave him the assurance that “they would always have my back.”
Beyond that, he said individuals debating whether to enlist or join via an ROTC program should consider the financial awards, too. These opportunities include scholarships for high school students and monthly stipends through the ROTC, Robinson said.