Dan Oester­held, a cadet enrolled in the Reserve Offi­cers’ Training Corps at North­eastern Uni­ver­sity, has earned a pres­ti­gious award in lead­er­ship from the United States Army for his per­for­mance at War­rior Forge 2011, a 29-​​day Leader Devel­op­ment and Assess­ment Course at Joint Base Lewis-​​McChord in Washington.

This summer, more than 6,900 cadets from more than 1,100 col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties par­tic­i­pated in the course, the suc­cessful com­ple­tion of which is required to become com­mis­sioned as a 2nd Lieu­tenant in the U.S. Army.

In July, Oester­held ranked No. 1 among nearly 500 cadets in the 8th “Auto­matic” Field Artillery Reg­i­ment after a series of assess­ments that tested phys­ical endurance and team-​​building skills. He com­pleted 71 push-​​ups in two min­utes, ran two miles in 12:06 and suc­cess­fully led his fellow cadets through a series of sim­u­lated training exercises.

Oester­held was pre­sented the Asso­ci­a­tion of the United States Army Lead­er­ship Excel­lence Award at his grad­u­a­tion cer­e­mony. He also received a cer­e­mo­nial Army saber in recog­ni­tion of the achievement.

Oesterheld’s self­less atti­tude fueled his suc­cess. “No matter which cadet was leading the group, I was always giving 100 per­cent,” Oester­held said. “When it was my turn to take charge, everyone else wanted me to succeed.”

The expe­ri­ence, he said, has rein­forced the value of team­work. As Oester­held put it, “The biggest thing I learned is the impor­tance of everyone doing his or her job. Everyone has to be focused and aware of what’s going on in order to accom­plish the overall mission.”

After grad­u­a­tion, the fourth-​​year crim­inal jus­tice major plans to be com­mis­sioned as an infantry officer. The Sep­tember 11 attacks on the Twin Towers, he said, had inspired him to join the military.

It seemed like the right thing to do, espe­cially when all of this stuff inter­ests me,” Oester­held said. “I have para­chuted out of planes and rap­pelled out of heli­copters, but leading 40 sol­diers with an infantry pla­toon right out of col­lege is a life expe­ri­ence I wouldn’t get any­where else.”