As we observe Armed Forces Day on May 15 and National Military Service Appreciation Month, Saint Leo University wants to celebrate its latest members of the military. Congratulations to Saint Leo's ROTC cadets who were commissioned as second lieutenants in the U.S. Army on May 7, and we salute all of our students, alumni, faculty, and staff who answered the call and have served and protected the United States.
Saint Leo University is proud of its long history of educating our nation's military, veterans, and their families. Since 1973, the university has been a leading institution of higher education for military members and consistently earns top national honors for providing educational opportunities to those who serve. The university understands that balancing college life, military, career, family, and personal responsibilities can be challenging, and offers flexibility to fit students' schedules.
At the May 7 ceremony held at the Venetian Event Center in New Tampa, FL, members of the Suncoast Battalion, which includes Saint Leo University and the University of South Florida, 53 cadets received their commissions. These cadets balanced their academic careers, jobs, and personal lives while training and learning to be officers.
Guest speaker Major General James E. Bonner noted that their commissioning is the first of many goals they will achieve in their professional careers.
He said Saint Leo University and the University of South Florida, "are phenomenal learning institutions, and this ROTC program is incredible. I talk to my team a lot about being about hope and helping one achieve their goals. The Suncoast Battalion truly does this.
"This year, they won the prestigious MacArthur Award, which puts them in the top 8 of 274 ROTC units," Bonner said. "Being in the top 2 percent of ROTC units in the United States, sounds pretty good to me!"
Bonner advised the ROTC cadets to remember how their leaders helped them rise to, and rise above, any circumstances.
"I want to plant two seeds," he said. "One, take care of the individual people in your squads. Two, build team cohesiveness. Get to know them, your teammates, their families, their needs, their stressors . . . Everything builds on our shared values and trust. Cohesion comes in living our Army values.
"I am confident that you will give the office you soon will assume the care and attention that it deserves," Bonner said.
The cadets then took their oath of office, swearing to support and defend the constitution of the United States.
Commissioned as U.S. Army second lieutenants from Saint Leo University are:
Xavier Davis, who was born in Minneapolis, and graduated from Bloomingdale High School in Valrico, FL, is earning his Bachelor of Arts degree in criminal justice-homeland security from Saint Leo University. He earned a National Guard assignment in the field artillery branch. Following his commissioning, he will attend Field Artillery Basic Officer Leaders Course (BOLC) at Fort Sill, OK, and then he will serve with the 116th Field Artillery Regiment in Plant City, FL. Davis enjoys playing guitar during his free time.
Donovan Deterding of Bradenton, FL, is earning his Bachelor of Arts degree in criminal justice-homeland security and earned an Army Reserve assignment to the military intelligence branch. Following commissioning, he will attend Military Intelligence BOLC in Fort Huachuca, AZ, then will serve in the 641st Military Intelligence Regional Support Group in St. Petersburg, FL. Deterding enjoys history, video games, and Star Wars, and he hopes to work for the FBI.
Christopher Kosarzycki of Berkeley CA, will receive his Bachelor of Arts degree in criminal justice, and earned a National Guard assignment in military intelligence. He will attend Military Police BOLC at Fort Leonard Wood, MO, and then will serve in the 715th Military Police Company for the Florida National Guard. A member of Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity at Saint Leo, Kosarzycki hopes to become a member of the FBI in the future.
David Lee, who is from Tampa, FL, will receive his Bachelor of Science degree in cybersecurity from Saint Leo and earned an active duty assignment to the transportation branch. He will attend Transportation BOLC in Fort Lee, VA. Lee will then serve in the 25th Transportation Company, Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, Movement Control Battalion in Camp Carroll, South Korea. He played golf competitively for many years, plays the harmonica, and is a member of Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity.
Andra McCray was born in Columbia, SC, and is earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology. He received an active duty assignment into the chemical branch and will attend Chemical BOLC at Fort Leonard Wood, MO. McCray then will serve in the 8th Theater Sustainment Command in Hawaii. An alumnus of Kappa Sigma fraternity, McCray hopes to become a real estate manager.
Peter Pappalardo of Staten Island, New York, will earn a Bachelor of Arts in management and earned an active duty assignment into the Adjutant General Corps. Following commissioning, he will attend Adjutant General BOLC in Fort Jackson, SC, and he will await his orders. Pappalardo is a member of Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity and was a member of Saint Leo's first esports team.
Saint Leo University congratulates these newly commissioned officers and celebrates its 6,092 military-connected students!