Texas A&M's next Corps of Cadets commander - described by her boss as demonstrating "exceptional leadership ability along with a dedicated and selfless work ethic - is a woman, marking a first for the program in its 139-year history.
Alyssa Marie Michalke already made history last year when she was the first female named Corps sergeant major, which is the highest rank for any cadet who is not a senior. She's among 300 women now in the Corps, which has about 2,400 members now. It wasn't until just over 40 years ago that women were allowed into the Corps.
Michalke was selected following interviews with a board made up of the senior key leadership of the Cadets Corps, and members of the Commandant’s staff and ROTCs, including the Commandant of the Corps, retired Army Brig. Gen. Joe Ramirez, Jr. with the final approval made by Interim University President Mark Hussey.
The ocean and civil engineering dual major plans to work in the offshore oil production and sub-sea systems industry after graduation.
In a statement released by the university, Michalke said she was "deeply honored to have been selected to serve as the next Corps Commander and will do my very best to uphold the tradition of leading my fellow cadets, while also continuing to learn and grow. The Corps of Cadets has provided me a tremendous opportunity to grow as a person and to develop good leadership skills. More importantly, I've been able to mentor others, and I will continue to do so in my new position as Corps Commander."
Officials at Texas A&M said if the recent growth trend continues, Michalke - whose mother is a 1993 Aggie graduate - will provide leadership for the largest Texas A&M Corps in 45 years. It has increased its ranks by more than 450 students since 2010, resulting in the reactivation of seven company-size units in recent years.
The following is a portion of the news release sent to media this morning:
In keeping with Corps tradition, Michalke was informed of her selection by the current Corps Commander David Trigg of San Antonio, who is scheduled to graduate in December 2015.
“I have had the privilege of working with Alyssa Michalke over the course of the 2014-2015 year. She has demonstrated exceptional leadership ability along with a dedicated and selfless work ethic. I am proud to transition my role as Corps Commander to such a worthy and brilliant cadet. I am confident she and her peers will lead the Corps into even greater achievements,” Trigg stated.
Michalke will formally assume command of the Corps on May 9 when it holds its traditional “Final Review,” a time-honored ceremony in which seniors lead their units in a military review—a version of a parade--for the last time, and then they are the honored as reviewing officers at an immediately following second review, with the new officers—seniors—in command of the units for the first time.
“Alyssa Michalke is an exceptional young woman who has clearly demonstrated her leadership abilities throughout her three years in the Corps, most notably as the Corps Sergeant Major this year, the highest ranking junior position in the Corps. She was the perfect choice for Corps Commander for next year,” said Ramirez, a member of Texas A&M’s Class of 1979 and a former cadet.
“It is certainly a notable distinction for Alyssa to be the first female ever selected as Corps Commander in the 139-year history of the Corps of Cadets, but Alyssa was selected because she was the best cadet for the position, not because she is female,” the Commandant stated. “The Corps of Cadets has had many females in key leadership positions throughout the years, but Alyssa is the first to be selected as Corps Commander – the highest ranking position in the Corps - and she earned it. We are all very proud of her and look forward to watching her continue to grow and develop as a leader as the Commander of the Texas A&M Corps of Cadets next year.”
Hussey and Texas A&M System Chancellor John Sharp joined in congratulating Michalke and praised the leadership of the Corps—both the cadets and the Commandant’s staff—for continuing to make the Corps a premier leadership organization that offers opportunities to all Aggies—men and women and those from all racial and ethnic backgrounds—who desire to make that extra commitment to hone their leadership and related skills for later life, be it in the armed forces or in a civilian environment.
“I join in congratulating Cadet Michalke on her selection as Corps Commander,” Hussey said. “I’m certain our next President will look to her for advice and counsel in the same manner I relied on Commander Trigg. I am confident that she will serve admirably as Cadet Colonel of the Corps during the coming school year.”
“The Corps was great back when I was in, and it’s even better now. I say that for a variety of reasons, including, but certainly not limited to the fact that it now includes women as well as being diverse and inclusive in all respects,” noted Sharp, a 1972 Texas A&M graduate and a member of the Corps staff. “I heartily congratulate Cadet Michalke on her selection as Corps Commander and all of her other accomplishments, and I indeed wish her well.”
In addition to currently holding the highest position in the Corps other than those reserved for seniors, Michalke has excelled at every level during her first three years at Texas A&M—in Corps activities, her university studies and in community service. She is a member of the Corps’ O. R. Simpson Honor Society and the Ross Volunteers, the elite honor guard unit, and she played on the Corps’ basketball and softball teams. Academically, she has been named a Distinguished Student. Also, she is also a member of Omega Epsilon – the National Honor Society for Chemical Engineering, the Texas A&M Marine Technology Society (MTS), and the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers (SNAME).
Outside her Corps and academic endeavors, she has been an active member of Texas A&M Sports for Kids, an organization that strives to create opportunities for children to become involved in youth sports.