ST. LEO – “What a great day to commission these future leaders,” said Lieutenant Colonel Janus T. Fraley, professor of military science, as he welcomed families and friends to the commissioning ceremony for four Saint Leo University Army ROTC cadets. They were commissioned as second lieutenants into the U.S. Army in an evening ceremony on April 29, and also were recognized during the undergraduate commencement earlier that day.
Cadets receive bachelor’s degrees and complete U.S. Army ROTC requirements through
Saint Leo and the Suncoast Battalion, which includes the University of South Florida. They generally receive postings starting immediately after graduation.
The cadets individually were called to take the oath of office, have their gold bars pinned to their uniform by family members, and receive their first salute.
The new Army officers are:
• Second Lieutenant Jason Douglass, who majored in multimedia management. He graduated from South View High School in Fayetteville, NC, and graduated from Hillsborough Community College in Tampa in 2009. He will be posted to Bonafey, FL, to work in the armor branch of the National Guard;
• Second Lieutenant William LaPierre, who is from Long Island, NY, majored in hospitality management. He will be posted to New York, to work in the transportation corps of the National Guard;
• Second Lieutenant Alex Swonger, who majored in psychology, is from Zephyrhills, FL. She will be posted at Fort Bragg, NC, and will work in the Adjunct General’s Corps; and
• Second Lieutenant Cody Walker, who is from Wesley Chapel, FL, majored in biology. He will be stationed in Lakeland, FL, and will work in the chemical corps in the National Guard.
Swonger, a graduate of Zephyrhills High School, was recognized during the undergraduate commencement ceremony, when she was awarded the Thomas B. Southard Leadership Award Sabre. The sabre is given to the Army ROTC graduate who demonstrates leadership achievement in ROTC advanced camp, classes, and labs. Board of Trustees member Richard W. Johnson ’68 presented Swonger with the sabre. Johnson recognized Swonger for her natural leadership in the classroom and for her demonstration of Saint Leo’s core value of respect.
Dr. William J. Lennox Jr., university president and retired U.S. Army lieutenant general, was the guest speaker. “You’re leaving a great family at Saint Leo and entering another great family in the Army,” Lennox said. “Very few Americans are taking on the responsibility that you are taking. You are coming from families that inculcated values in you at an early age.”
He advised the new graduates to follow the four L’s and one T:
• Lead – Have confidence in yourself.
• 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.
Photos by Renee Gerstein, Saint Leo University
2nd Lieutenant Alex Swonger; 2nd Lieutenant Jason Douglass; 2nd Lieutenant William LaPierre, and 2nd Lieutenant Cody Walker pose in front of the For Those Who Serve statue at Saint Leo University.
About Saint Leo University
Saint Leo University (www.saintleo.edu) is a modern Catholic teaching university that is firmly grounded in the liberal arts tradition and the timeless Benedictine wisdom that seeks balanced growth of mind, body, and spirit. The Saint Leo University of today is a private, nonprofit institution that creates hospitable learning communities wherever our students want to be or need to be, whether that is a campus classroom, a web-based environment, an employer’s worksite, a military base, or an office park. We welcome people of all faiths and of no religious affiliation, and encourage learners of all generations. We are committed to providing educational opportunities to our nation’s armed forces, our veterans, and their families. We are regionally accredited to award degrees ranging from the associate to the doctorate, and we guide all our students to develop their capacities for critical thinking, moral reflection, and lifelong learning and leadership.
We remain the faithful stewards of the beautiful lakeside University Campus in the Tampa Bay region of Florida, where our founding monks created the first Catholic college in the state in 1889. Serving nearly 15,000 students, we have expanded to downtown Tampa, to other sites in Florida and beyond, and maintain a physical presence in seven states. We provide highly respected online learning programs to students nationally and internationally. More than 82,000 alumni reside in all 50 states, in Washington, DC, in three U.S. territories, and in 76 countries.
Media Contact: Mary McCoy, University Writer & Media Relations, firstname.lastname@example.org, (352) 588-7118 or cell (813) 610-8416