Eagle Editorial Board
Sgt. Maj. Alyssa Marie Michalke has been selected as the new commander of Texas A&M's storied Corps of Cadets. She will be the first woman to fill that post.
Good for her and good for those who appointed her, based not on her gender but on her leadership qualities. From all accounts, Michalke is the right person to lead a Corps that has grown by almost 25 percent since 2010.
"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," said retired Army Brig. Gen. Joe Ramirez Jr., commandant of the Corps and a member of the A&M Class of 1979.
Michalke was selected after interviews with Ramirez, his staff, members of the Corps' senior leadership and ROTC leaders. A&M Interim President Mark Hussey made the final decision.
For the most part, the reaction to Michalke's selection has been positive, as it should be. There has been some grumbling, though, including a poster to the story on The Eagle's website, who wrote, "Why do women always want to take over what use to be a traditional male role? Leave it be!"
Please. Let's be honest here. For thousands of years, every role was a male role. In this country, as in many countries around the world, every role was a white male role. Only in recent years have we seen women, people of color, gays and lesbians, people with physical challenges and others assume "traditional male roles." You can bet the deciding factor in their rise to leadership was ability.
Michalke said she has only experienced one act of discrimination during her three years at A&M.
That's a far cry from what the first women in the Corps, suffered 30 to 40 years ago. Now, there are some 300 women in the 2,400-member Corps of Cadets, many in leadership positions.
The fear of what changes women would bring to the Corps long since has been brushed away.
Now, Michalke will put the last fear to rest when she proves to be an outstanding Corps commander.
Current Corps Commander David Trigg, who will turn over command at the May 9 Finale Review, said, "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."
Michalke already has excelled as a member of the elite Ross Volunteers and the O.R. Simpson Honor Society. She is an A&M Distinguished Student, as well as a member of Omega Epsilon, the National Honor Society for Chemical Engineering; the Texas A&M Marine Technology Society; and the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers. Michalke has been on the Corps' basketball and softball teams and she works with young people to encourage them to be active in youth sports.
There will come a time when we will run out firsts -- the first woman to ..., the first African American to ..., the first Hispanic to ... . Sgt. Maj. Michalke will hasten that day when people are recognized solely of their abilities and merit.
To paraphrase a current saying:
You go, Commander!