MTSU senior Army cadets commissioned

Army Lt. Col. Jackie McDowell, at right, administers the oath to 16 MTSU senior cadets commissioned into the Army during a formal ceremony May 5 in Cantrell Hall of the Tom H. Jackson Building. MTSU photo by Andy Heidt.

MURFREESBORO — Graduating senior Army ROTC cadets, including one from Bartlett, were commissioned on May 5 at Middle Tennessee State University. It has been one busy semester for all the young men and women preparing for military careers while juggling academic pursuits.

Sixteen cadets were in a formal ceremony including guest speaker Robert Harris, a retired U.S. Army major general.

The Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, or ROTC, program helps cadets with leadership and managerial skills and confidence.

Second lieutenant commissionees included Devon Boyce (English) of Murfreesboro; William Brantley (international relations) of Jackson; Sara Crum (biochemistry) of Woodville, Ala.; Brandon Harbaugh (criminal justice) of Lebanon; Tyler Holweg (economics/criminal justice) of Morristown; Andre Layden (organizational communication) of Atoka; Timothy Maginn (aerospace) of Bartlett; Richard Olivarez (leisure sport and tourism studies) of Lebanon; James Phillips (aerospace administration) of Byrdstown; Blake Pickel (integrated studies) of Manchester; Sherrod Redmond (criminal justice) of Memphis; Brian Roy (global studies) of Christiana; Kara Sanders (psychology) of Shelbyville; Brennen Smyth (plant and soil science) of Ooltewah; Joel Whitehead (electronic media communications) of Tullahoma; and Shanika Willis (master’s degree in chemistry) of Antioch.

During the spring, Army ROTC cadets:

  • Conducted a staff ride at Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania.
  • Provided assistance for the “Clothesline Project,” an event held by the June Anderson Center for Women and Nontraditional Students to raise awareness for sexual assault and domestic violence.
  • Gained field training and weapons qualification experience at the TN Army National Guard’s Volunteer Training Site Command in Smyrna, Tennessee.
  • Held “Spartan races” across a two-mile route across campus in a “ROTC Warrior Challenge” with members of the military science faculty.
  • Served as “shadows hosts” for high school students visiting campus.

This summer, all junior cadets will attend a month-long Advance Camp at Fort Knox, Ky.

The weapons qualification range experience helped juniors prepare for Advance Camp that evaluates them on what they have learned in ROTC. Cadets were required to zero their rifles and successfully qualify — hitting a minimum of 23 out of 40 targets from varying ranges — with the M16s. Every cadet qualified.

For the Gettysburg trip, seniors were split into groups and assigned research topics on different segments of the battle. A park ranger helped foster discussion and the cadets had to brief their assignments with the entire class.

“The staff ride helped expand their knowledge of military history as well as provided lessons on leadership,” said cadet Matthew West, a senior computer information systems major from Thompson’s Station, Tenn.

The Warrior Challenge included 500 pushups, situps and flutter kicks as a group, lunges and bear crawls up the parking garage, water jug and litter carry and 7-minute group plank.

CASH — Cadets Against Sexual Harassment — is an ROTC student organization providing classes on sexual assault/harassment prevention and bystander awareness in order to eliminate sexual assault and harassment.

U.S. Army Lt. Col. Jackie McDowell directs the military science program.

For more on ROTC and the program, call (615) 898-2470 or visit

MTSU senior Army ROTC cadets make strides in completing the obstacle course during the Warrior Challenge in April. MTSU photo by Matthew West.
MTSU senior Army ROTC cadets make strides in completing the obstacle course during the Warrior Challenge in April. MTSU photo by Matthew West.