Service with honors

November 10, 2010

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."

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