Five graduating students from Saint Leo University’s ROTC program at
University Campus were commissioned as second lieutenants into the U.S. Army in an
evening ceremony on April 30. The new officers were also recognized during the
undergraduate commencement held earlier in the day at University Campus.
Cadets received bachelor’s degrees and completed U.S. Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps requirements through Saint Leo and the Suncoast Battalion, which encompasses several area colleges and universities. They generally receive postings starting immediately after graduation.
The new Army officers are:
• 2nd Lt. Matthew Basin, who majored in criminal justice. He will be posted to Fort Belvoir, VA, to work in military intelligence.
• 2nd Lt. Robert Hickman, who received his BA in psychology with a minor in anthropology. He received an appointment to the infantry branch and will be assigned to Fort Benning, GA, for training.
• 2nd Lt. Gabriela Navarro, who majored in criminal justice. She will be stationed in Queens, NY, and will be assigned to the field artillery branch.
• 2nd Lt. Cody Singer, who majored in criminal justice with a specialization in homeland security. His National Guard unit is in Leesburg, FL, and he will be assigned to the infantry corps.
• 2nd Lt. Stephanie Torres-Davila, who majored in criminal justice with a specialization in homeland security. She will be assigned to the transportation corps.
During the afternoon undergraduate commencement, Cadet Ryan Hart, who graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in global studies, received the Thomas B. Southard Leadership Award Sabre. This award, which is given to the Army ROTC graduate who best demonstrates leadership achievement in ROTC Cadet Summer Training, classes, and labs, is named for Dr. Thomas B. Southard, who served as Saint Leo College’s fifth president from 1971 to 1985.
An outstanding student, Hart was honored recently on Academic Excellence Day with the School of Arts and Sciences Excellence in Academic Leadership Award for his invaluable contribution to the development of the Global Studies program at Saint Leo University. During the 2014-2015 academic year, he also won the Scholastic Excellence Award for maintaining a 4.00 academic GPA. In addition, he is the founder/president of the Saint Leo University Global Studies Club, and a member of Delta Epsilon Sigma National Scholastic Honor Society. In 2016, Hart represented the university on the Model Area League.
“Throughout his time at Saint Leo, Hart has proven to be a motivated leader, a person who strives for excellence in every task that he faces,” said Capt. Fernando L. Sostre Aleman, Army ROTC assistant professor of military science at Saint Leo University. “Cadet Hart, who will be commissioned in December, epitomizes leadership symbolized by the Southard Sabre.”
Dr. William J. Lennox Jr., president of Saint Leo University, was the guest speaker. A retired U.S. Army lieutenant general, Dr. Lennox served as the superintendent of the United Stated Military Academy at West Point (2001-2006). He told the newly commissioned officers he was very proud of them for electing to serve our nation, especially during a time of war, and wasn’t surprised that they had chosen this calling.
He offered these words of wisdom in the form of five letters – four L’s and a T:
• Lead – have confidence in yourself; step forward as leaders and try.
• Listen – meld your confidence with the advice from your leaders.
• Learn – never stop learning at every opportunity.
• Live your values – never compromise your values; you are held to the highest standard.
• Take care of your soldiers – they are the best this country has to offer.
Educating Those Who Serve Our Nation
Saint Leo has a more than 40-year history of educating military members, veterans, ROTC, and their families. The university started working with military students in 1973, when it began offering classes at the Avon Park Bombing Range in Florida. Now, more than 5,000 service members/veterans are enrolled in Saint Leo’s degree programs, which represents 30 percent of the university’s student population. Last fall, Saint Leo again was designated a 2016 Military Friendly® School by Victory Media.