The students participated in Elon's ROTC programs, which are offered in collaboration with N.C. A&T State University.
Four Elon seniors were commissioned into the U.S. Army on Thursday, a major milestone in their careers that comes just a day before they will receive their diplomas as members of Elon's Class of 2019.
Samuel Burke, Sol Carlson, Taylor Massa and Tyler Wilson were joined by family, friends and Elon faculty and staff in Holt Chapel on the university's South Campus. During the commissioning ceremony, cadets took the oath of office, had their second lieutenant bars pinned on them by loved ones and received their first salutes as commissioned officers. President Connie Ledoux Book offered her congratulations to the new officers and their families, letting them know how proud she and the university are of what they've accomplished.
Elon offers its ROTC program through a cooperative agreement with N.C. A&T State University, and Lt. Col. Natalie Bynum, professor of military science at N.C. A&T noted the extra time and effort that members of ROTC at Elon put into participating in the program as it includes traveling to N.C. A&T for classes, training and other programs. It takes dedication and commitment, Bynum said. "It takes a special person to want to do this, to want to serve, to want to be where they are right now," Bynum said.
The commissioning ceremony is the culmination of four years of training and marks the beginning of military service for each. In taking the oath of office, each swore to support and defend the U.S. Constitution. Each newly commissioned officer becomes an agent of the executive branch of the government, appointed by the president based on the secretary of defense’s signed officer nomination scroll for appointment of each candidate which has also been approved by the U.S. Senate.
In her remarks, keynote speaker Col. Lynn Ray offered her explanation of what it means to be an officer in the U.S. Army, noting that it is a distinct honor. "You serve a grateful nation and a military that is appreciated and respected by the citizens in this country," Ray, who is a branch chief in the Office of the Chief of Engineers in the Pentagon, told the new officers. "I want you to be proud to have this honor
The seniors who were commissioned as officers have also received their first official assignments:
2nd Lt. Samuel Burke is from Berkeley Heights, New Jersey, and achieved the rank of cadet captain and served as company commander in Elon ROTC. He will graduate with a bachelor's degree in accounting from Elon and had his second lieutenant bars pinned on by his parents, Kelly and Sam Burke. He will serve as an armor officer in the North Carolina National Guard and will be working for PriceWaterhouseCoopers in Charlotte.
2nd Lt. Sol Carlson achieved the rank of cadet lieutenant and served as TAC Team officer in Elon ROTC. He will graduate with a bachelor's degree in business administration and finance and had his second lieutenant bars pinned on by his father, John Carlson, and his grandfather, retired Naval Lieutenant George Hagerty.
He will serve as a quartermaster officer in the North Carolina National Guard.
2nd Lt. Taylor Massa is from Newington, Connecticut, and achieved the rank of cadet captain and served as assistant S3 operations officers. She will graduate with a bachelor's degree in psychology and had her second lieutenant bars pinned on by her parents, Suzanne and Joseph Massa. She was a member of Sigma Sigma Sigma. She attended the Cultural Understanding and Language Proficiency Program in Bulgaria followed by mandatory cade summer training in Fort Knox, Kentucky, during which she received the Armed Forces Bank Award and was recognized as one of the top 15 percent of cadets nationally.
She will serve as an active duty engineer officer and report to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, and will be stationed in Grafenwöhr, Germany.
2nd Lt. Tyler Wilson is from Annandale, Virginia, and achieved the rank of cadet major and served as the cadet executive officer. He will graduate with a bachelor's degree in computer science and had his second lieutenant bars pinned on by his parents, Jane and Richard Wilson, and his grandfather, PFC Joseph Carroll. He was a founding member of the Eta Upsilon chapter of Beta Theta Pi. He attended Cadet Tropp Leader Training with the 1-319th Field Artillery battery of the 82nd Airborne Division in Fort Bragg, N.C. He was recognized as one of the top 15 percent of cadets nationally.
He will serve in the infantry branch as an active duty officer and will begin training in Fort Benning, Georgia, this summer.