Three North­eastern Uni­ver­sity seniors are not only top stu­dents — they’re already top mil­i­tary leaders.

The Army ROTC cadets have been named Dis­tin­guished Mil­i­tary Grad­u­ates, pending their suc­cessful com­ple­tion of senior year, based on their schol­ar­ship, high moral char­acter, mil­i­tary apti­tude and lead­er­ship ability. They rank in the top 20 per­cent of grad­u­ating cadets nation­wide, said Lt. Col. Gary Soldato, pro­fessor of mil­i­tary science.

Seniors Jonathan Hickey, Robert Leedham, and Caitlyn McGowan will be com­mis­sioned second lieu­tenants upon grad­u­a­tion and begin active duty — Hickey and Leedham in the Army Corps of Engi­neers, McGowan in the Nursing Corps.

As Dis­tin­guished Mil­i­tary Grad­u­ates, Cadets Hickey, Leedham and McGowan adroitly bal­ance Army office training with the rigors of North­eastern aca­d­e­mics,” said Soldato, who com­mands the Reserve Offi­cers Training Corps’ Lib­erty Bat­talion, based at Northeastern.

They embody the Army values and are rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the entire Lib­erty Bat­talion: the University’s pre­mier orga­ni­za­tion for pro­ducing future leaders in the U.S. Army and in society,” he said.

North­eastern has hosted ROTC since 1951 and in 1961–62 it was believed to be the largest ROTC pro­gram in the U.S. With U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, R-​​Mass., among its former cadets, Lib­erty Bat­talion is the largest ROTC pro­gram in Massachusetts.

In addi­tion to Northeastern’s long his­tory with the mil­i­tary, the uni­ver­sity is at the fore­front of research in areas of home­land secu­rity and defense. We are home to federally-​​funded Cen­ters of Excel­lence, including the Aware­ness and Local­iza­tion of Explosives-​​related Threats (ALERT) center, and recently broke ground on the George J. Kostas Research Insti­tute of Home­land Secu­rity funded by an invest­ment by an alumni.

North­eastern has a proud tra­di­tion of sup­porting our men and women in uni­form through ROTC and aiding our national secu­rity efforts through sci­en­tific inno­va­tion,” said Joseph E. Aoun, pres­i­dent of North­eastern Uni­ver­sity. “The ded­i­ca­tion of our ROTC stu­dents and the research done by our out­standing fac­ulty con­tribute to the safety of our country and the world.”

Hickey, of Sal­is­bury, Mass., studies civil engi­neering. He was inspired by his Army-​​veteran father and the “great things” he had heard about ROTC. The pro­gram, he said, has taught him “what a leader needs to be.”

McGowan, of South­bury, Conn., came to North­eastern for its “well-​​known” nursing pro­gram and coop­er­a­tive edu­ca­tion model. She joined ROTC during her freshman year, after meeting other cadets while working out, she said.

Leedham, of Marsh­field, Mass., is ranked 26th among more than 5,400 ROTC cadets nation­wide, said Soldato. The polit­ical sci­ence major said he joined to “serve my country,” and found ROTC a “great pro­gram for devel­oping leadership.”