2022 ROTC Commissioning Ceremony Salutes 16 New Officers
Stetson’s 2022 ROTC Commissioning Ceremony, held on campus at the Rinker Fieldhouse May 8, was a time of relief, reflection and reward.
Sixteen students from the university, members of the Eagle Battalion, advanced from cadets to new officers, receiving commissions as second lieutenants in the U.S. Army. They were among a total of 899 students who graduated during Stetson’s multiple Commencement ceremonies May 6-7.
Lt. Col. Robert C. Moyer, the Eagle Battalion’s commanding officer, based at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, presided over the ceremony. The guest speaker was Brig. Gen. Randal T. Elliott, who was born in nearby New Smyrna Beach. Traditionally, the ceremony had been held at Lee Chapel on campus, most recently in pre-pandemic 2019.
The Eagle Battalion, among the largest and most successful nationwide, consists of Stetson, Embry-Riddle (the host school), Bethune-Cookman University and Daytona State College.
The day’s relief and reward came by virtue of tireless training efforts as cadets. For example, first-year cadets at Stetson are required to take a one-hour ROTC class weekly and a two-hour lab, along with physical training three early mornings per week. As the cadets progress each year, those requirements are raised. Field training also is mandated for all, with a 40-day leadership course at Fort Knox, Kentucky, occurring between the junior and senior years.
Meanwhile, the day’s reflection was for a job well done, with the anticipation of next steps. Upon completion of the program, military-service contracts come with an eight-year commitment, where cadets may select their specific service area. If they choose active duty, at least the first four years must remain in active duty. If Reserve or National Guard duty is selected, cadets must remain in that service for their entire eight-year commitment.
By formal definition, Army commissioned officers are “critical thinkers and decision makers who inspire strength in others. They are members of a unique fellowship that has spanned the history of our nation since the Army’s inception on June 14, 1775, as the first branch of American military services. … Commissioned officers are responsible for completing demanding missions while ensuring the welfare, morale and professional development of the soldiers entrusted to them. As visionary leaders, they use their self-discipline, motivation, confidence and judgment to solve problems and accomplish their mission.”
Stetson’s New Second Lieutenants
Nadia Babij, from Old Saybrook, Connecticut, majored in political science while also working a full-time job. She was a member of the club softball team and received a nomination for female athlete of the year for Stetson intramural sports. Babij has been commissioned into the Colorado National Guard as an ordnance officer.
Her biggest inspiration during ROTC was her mother, who has always motivated her to “achieve beyond what was expected.”
Jonel John Bellune, from Palmetto, Florida, majored in business administration and was a part of a running club called “Hatters on the Run” for all four years on campus. Bellune placed in the top three spots in every 5K race the club attend, and he was the club’s secretary. He is now commissioned as an active-duty officer for the branch of Air Defense Artillery.
During his ROTC years, his biggest inspiration was his parents because of their “strong work ethic, insightful wisdom and powerful words of encouragement.” He calls them his “real MVP!”
Allison Chajon-Paz, from Bradenton, Florida, majored in psychology while also being involved in intramural sports and volunteer work. She was a Young Life Leader, an Orientation leader and director of administration for her sorority, Delta Delta Delta. She has been commissioned into the USAR 1181st Deployment and Distribution Support Battalion as a quartermaster officer.
Her biggest ROTC inspiration was her parents, who have paved the way to get where she is today with a “tremendous amount of love and support.”
Spencer Cooke, from Palm City, Florida, majored in health science. While attending Stetson, he was a SMP cadet (reserve officer trainee) with the Alpha Company 1-124th Infantry, as well as in the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity. In ROTC, he was also a platoon leader. He has been commissioned in the Florida National Guard as an ordnance officer with the 221st Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company.
Cooke is thankful for multiple reasons, including God and his parents, for “keeping him going” throughout his time in ROTC.
Luke Cordell, from Sorrento, Florida, majored in business administration with a focus on entrepreneurship. Also, he was a leader in his fraternity, his school and his community. He has been commissioned into active duty as an artillery officer.
Cordell said his ROTC inspiration was knowing he was a “product of his own decisions, attitude and values, which will determine his fate, not outside forces.” Also, he’s excited to “serve the greatest nation.”
Joshua Di Cuirci
Joshua Di Cuirci, from Middletown, Delaware, majored in digital arts with a concentration in photography. He competed in various intramural sports on campus, helping his teams win several championships. Upon graduation from the Air Defense Artillery Basic Officer Leader Course, he will be moving to Baumholder, Germany, to join the 5-7 ADA Battalion.
His biggest inspiration was the motivation he received from his family to “never settle for less and go above and beyond the call of duty.”
Janea Houston, from Jacksonville, Florida, majored in political science. She also was a member of Stetson’s Rotaract Club. She has been commissioned into the Reserves as a transportation officer.
Houston’s biggest inspiration was her family, which “continually set an example of what it means to work hard and achieve greatness, despite the obstacles that present themselves.”
Ronan Kelley, from Spring Branch, Texas, majored in health sciences while also working extensively with his fraternity, Pi Kappa Alpha. For the fraternity, he served as the president, internal vice president and housing officer. Additionally, he worked on charity events that raised thousands of dollars for fallen firefighters and patients of multiple sclerosis.
Now commissioned, he will serve as an engineering officer in the Texas National Guard.
Ella Kerchner grew up in Naples, Florida, and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in health sciences. She received the DMG designation for Distinguished Military Graduate. During her time at Stetson, she enjoyed intramural sports, such as soccer and softball, and commanded the Stetson Color Guard and Cadet Ranger Detachment. She has been commissioned as an active-duty Medical Service Corp officer and is in position to become a medical evacuation helicopter pilot.
Kerchner’s inspiration continues to be her mother, who is the “strongest person she knows,” as well as the mentors she’s had along her ROTC journey and her friends.
Benjamin Little, from Annapolis, Maryland, majored in biology and received the DMG designation for Distinguished Military Graduate. Little was an active member of the campus community, especially serving as the surf club president and being a member of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity. He also was a member of the Ranger Challenge team for four years.
Little has been commissioned as an active-duty infantry officer.
Erin Lunt, from Tallahassee, Florida, majored in health science with a minor in psychology. She participated in many extracurricular activities and held several leadership positions, such as being president of the Baptist Collegiate Fellowship and Catholic Campus Ministry. She also held a part-time job in the sports medicine department all four years. In April 2021, she was inducted into Omicron Delta Kappa, the national leadership honor society. Each semester she was named to either the honor roll or Dean’s List.
Lunt has been commissioned into the Tennessee Army National Guard as an ordnance officer.
Throughout the ROTC experience, her inspiration was to “serve Christ through leadership and help develop future officers in the Army.”
Lexi McComb, from DeLand, majored in health science and minored in psychology. She was a member of Alpha Epsilon Delta, Alpha Xi Delta, Omicron Delta Kappa and Psi Chi. In ROTC, she was an ACP TAC (company leadership adviser) her senior year. She will continue her Army career in the Florida National Guard as an ordnance officer in Jacksonville, Florida.
McComb would like to thank her mother, father, sister, brother-in-law and the others in the program for “keeping her going” throughout her time in ROTC.
Derek-Phillip Moore, born in Fresno, California, majored in health sciences and plans to be a cardiothoracic surgeon. He has held many inspiring jobs, such as being a patient care technician at a nursing home. He graduates from Stetson with Cum Laude academic honors.
Moore has been commissioned into active duty as a Chemical Corps officer.
He is the first military officer in his family, and his biggest inspiration during ROTC was his parents — as they pushed him to be the “best version” of himself.
Sarah Munnigh, from Leesburg, Florida, majored in psychology. She was a senator for three years in Stetson’s Student Government Association, and she was involved in multiple honor societies on campus, as well as played on the soccer intramural team for one year.
Munnigh has been commissioned into the Reserves as a transportation officer.
Her biggest inspiration during ROTC was her parents, and she gives special mention to retired Major Christopher Honeycutt.
Sarah Schwier was born in Annapolis, Maryland, and majored in health sciences at Stetson. She was a part of the Color Guard and intramural sports while also working full time and serving as the Philanthropy vice president for the Alpha Xi Delta sorority.
Schwier has been commissioned as an active-duty military intelligence officer with a branch detail in the Infantry.
Her biggest inspirations during ROTC were her parents, coworkers and close friends, who supported her during many challenges with family health and other obstacles.
Sophia Tender majored in psychology while also participating in the Color Guard, women’s club soccer and the Stetson choir. She dedicated much of her time to the Eagle Battalion, as well as to the leadership development of herself and those around her. During her time in the ROTC, she held numerous positions, proving to be a very intrinsically motivated person. Once her mind is made up on something she wants to accomplish, putting everything into accomplishing that goal.
Tender said she is inspired most by the “people she meets along the way, who are dedicated to the profession and work hard to take care of themselves and those around them.”