Cadets earn higher ranks at Alcorn's ROTC Commissioning Ceremony

The commitment of two rising cadets in Alcorn State University's Department of Military Science was recognized for ascending in the Army ranks.

Jackson, Mississippi native KeShana Antwani Graham, a graduating senior majoring in biology and Gulfport, Mississippi native Stacy Oatis-Brown, also a graduating senior majoring in criminal justice became 2nd Lieutenants during the 2018 Commissioning Ceremony Friday, May 4 at the Oakland Memorial Chapel. Col. Mark A. Olinger, retired U. S. Army veteran, delivered the keynote speech. 

Olinger, a Portland, Oregon native, served as director of Operations for the Defense Energy Support Center at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. He served in command and staff positions in the United States, Panama, the Republic of Korea, the Middle East and Germany.

Olinger admired the commitment of the graduates, and he assured them that the Army would equip them with the necessary skills they need to defend this country.

"You're being commissioned at a moment of extraordinary challenge for our society," said Olinger. "You are committing yourselves to be leaders at a time where leaders are heavily needed, and you have chosen to lead in an institution that prepares you to face the challenges we confront."

Olinger encouraged the graduates to stay diligent in their service.

"Remain courageous, dedicated to duty, and honorable, and you will achieve longevity in your military careers. You have demonstrated a clear understanding of the work that's required of you."

Climbing the ranks in the Army means a lot to Graham. She's proud of this profound moment in her budding military career.

"Being commissioned is one of my most significant accomplishments in life thus far," said Graham. 

For Brown, being commissioned is a start for what's to come in his future as a soldier.

"This is an honor, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to serve this country," said Brown. "I'm thankful to Alcorn for awarding me a scholarship to pursue my education here, and I look forward to what's ahead in my career."

President Alfred Rankins Jr. showed appreciation for the students' hard work, courage, and patriotism.

"Thank you for your commitment, sacrifice and answering the call to serve this great nation. I wish you Godspeed as you continue your journey," said Rankins.