Graduating ROTC cadets promoted to second lieutenants during annual commissioning ceremony

Three Alcorn State University graduates from the Department of Military Sciences’ ROTC program have made it to the next level in their military careers.

Diawardric Grover Jr., Devon Key, and Eddie Lee Joseph were promoted to second lieutenants during the annual May 2020 Commissioning Ceremony Friday, May 1 via a Zoom meeting. Colonel Damon Harris, who graduated from Alcorn in 1997, was the guest speaker for the ceremony.

Harris currently serves as the deputy commander of the Train, Advise, and Assist Command-East and commander of Forward Operating Base Fenty as part of Operation Resolute Support Afghanistan.

Because officers are continually evaluated, Harris emphasized the importance of exemplary behavior.

“Being a military officer is a profession, not a job,” said Harris. “That means that you are an officer 24 hours a day and seven days a week, and you’re always being assessed as an officer. You have to conduct yourself as an officer at all times.”

Harris encouraged the graduates to continue to enhance their knowledge and add to their skillsets.

“Study your craft. All of the knowledge that you gain is relevant for your career. The most critical part of development is self-education in your profession. You must read the manuals that are relevant to your branch. You must become a better writer, speaker, study military history, and understand how to direct in an operational environment. Learning never stops.”

The Alcorn alumnus concluded his message by describing his love for the Braves battalion. He encouraged the graduates to give back to their alma mater in the future.

“I love the Braves battalion,” said Harris. “You guys have a bond that will last for a lifetime; relish that. Always give back and look for opportunities to visit the university. Go back to the battalion that gave you the start to your career.”

The students expressed their pride in earning a new rank. Grover, a Fayette, Mississippi native, who earned a bachelor’s degree in phycology education, is thankful for his journey with ROTC at Alcorn.

“It’s a surreal feeling,” said Grover. “I joined Alcorn’s ROTC program during the spring 2016 semester. It started as an outlet for me to be a part of something and meet people. It’s amazing that in the process of the fun I had, my participation in this program led me to start my career immediately after college.”

Key, a Riverview, Florida native who earned a bachelor’s degree in electromechanical engineering, is motivated to conquer all obstacles to accomplish his goal of becoming a general in the future.

“I’m doing my best to conquer goals one at a time,” said Key. “Focusing on the task at hand is important. It is a process that will present new challenges in my career. I will take my time with each challenge and never give up. I will earn the highest rank the Army has to offer, which is a general. If I am going to do this, I might as well do the best I can.”

Joseph, a Chattanooga, Tennessee native who earned a bachelor’s degree in history, credits Alcorn for preparing him for a prosperous future.

“I have grown exponentially during my time at Alcorn by improving my networking skills, social skills, and academic fundamentals,” said Joseph. “I hope that I can be an example for those who will come behind me.”

Alcorn President Felecia M. Nave applauded the graduates for their service to our country.

“Alcorn is proud of you and what you have accomplished,” said Nave. “This is a momentous occasion and a significant milestone in your professional career. We are indebted to your wiliness to serve and sacrifice for our country and our safety. You have chosen to take the path less traveled in earning your degree and commissions.”

Diawardrick Grover taking an oath via Zoom during virtual commissioning.

Thumbnail: Devin Key (Left) and Eddie Lee Joseph (Right) stand at attention during the commissioning ceremony.