SU Distinguished Military Graduates

Four Army ROTC cadets from Shippensburg University have earned the Distinguished Military Graduate designation. Pictured, from left, are: Cadet Patrick Hiller, Cadet Reilly Kline, Cadet Haylie Hardy and Cadet Johnathan Adami.

Hard work has paid off for four Shippensburg University students who have pushed their way to the top 20 percent of all ROTC cadets from nearly 1,000 colleges and universities across the country.

Shippensburg University announced this week four Army ROTC cadets have earned the Distinguished Military Graduate (DMG) designation.

Senior criminal justice major Reilly Kline, senior psychology major Patrick Hiller, senior management major Haylie Hardy and senior criminal justice major Johnathan Adami have been ranked in the top 20 percent of all ROTC cadets in the nation.

The designation and ranking is determined by performance in three areas over the course of a student’s time as a cadet; academics, physical fitness and leadership potential.

“I’m immensely proud of these four cadets. This marks the first time in several years that the Shippensburg ROTC program has multiple DMGs from a single graduating class. They are a great example to their fellow cadets and will undoubtedly make excellent Army Officers in service of their country,” said Lt. Col. Chris Morton, chair of the Military Science Department.  

“Earning this distinction was truly humbling. In this organization, we perform by developing others. Accomplishments like this are not achieved individually, and I owe a tremendous amount of gratitude for the guidance and mentorship received from the cadre at Red Land High School and Shippensburg University, along with my peers,” Hardy, of Etters, said. “The truth is, none of us went through these four years of college just to earn DMG, our goal was to become the best people and leaders that we can be. The point I really want to make is that we don't do what we do to get recognized. The Army is not an individual activity; it is a team sport, and I believe that if everybody I was graduating with was given the same opportunities as the four of us were, they would be DMG right beside us.”

Hardy said she originally came to Shippensburg to play rugby.

“However, when I came for what I thought was an open house (turned out to be orientation), I was convinced to give ROTC a shot and signed up for it while scheduling my classes. A couple more injuries later, I decided to give up the sport I loved to pursue this unique opportunity of becoming an Army officer. Upon graduation, I'd like to branch Military Police or Field Artillery and be stationed in Fort Carson, Colorado.”

Hardy feels ROTC is an excellent opportunity for college students.

“This is truly the best leadership course a college student can take. This program has gotten me in the best physical shape of my life while teaching me how to care for and lead others through any circumstance. I was blessed to be given this opportunity. Although I had to give up some weekends and all of my summers, I never would have gotten so many life-changing opportunities if I did not join ROTC at Shippensburg University.”

Kline, of Nottingham, agreed that it is an honor to receive the DMG distinction.

“It's a reward for all the hard work put in over the past four years,” she said. “To be selected, you have to rank high on the order of merit list, which is created based on everything you did for the four years you were in ROTC. You get points based on your APFT scores, your academics, your ranking in your class, and any extra activities you do, like color guard, having a STEM major, extra summer training, sports, etc.

Kline said her brother did NROTC at Penn State, which sparked her interest in the training.

“Seeing him really enjoy that process made me want to give it a shot. I decided to try for an Army ROTC scholarship, which I received my senior year of high school. I then had the choice to make between Shippensburg, Slippery Rock, and Kutztown. I had decided I did not want to go to Slippery Rock, so that left Kutztown and Shippensburg. I put the names in a hat and pulled out Shippensburg. After I graduate, I hope to go Active Duty Aviation.”

“I have gotten to do more in ROTC than I ever would have if I was just a normal college student,” Kline added. “Yes, there were times that I absolutely wished I was a regular college student, but getting to jump out of planes, fly in helicopters, and spend three weeks in Europe kind of makes up for the hard times.”

Hiller, of Hughesville, explained: “Our DMG award is given to cadets in the top 20 percent of our graduating Class of 2019. We are ranked against all the other Army ROTC cadets in our class across the nation, which this year amounted to over 5,400 cadets (this excludes West Point cadets). We earn scores according to an Order of Merit List, is which we earn points based off of GPA, physical fitness scores, campus involvement, professional training, rating of potential, our performance at Advanced Camp at for Knox, and more. The more points we accumulate, the higher our Order of Merit Score.”

Hiller said a strong military background in his family interested him in a military career, along with a guaranteed career after graduation and the financial benefits for college.

“I joined Army ROTC in order to become a leader of troops, as I felt I had the potential to do so. I joined Shippensburg Army ROTC specifically because Ship was my top choice for college, as it is a small university with a strong department for my psychology major, and has an exceptionally strong ROTC program for such a small school. This way, I could have the best of both worlds. Upon graduation, we will commission as Active Duty Second Lieutenants, and I am hoping to be branched Aviation to serve as a helicopter pilot in the Army.”

Hiller also shared why the ROTC program at SU is beneficial to students:

“The Army ROTC program here at Shippensburg has benefited me by developing me as a leader, allowing me to have experiences and trainings I would not have had the opportunity to have elsewhere, and given me a strong support system of friends and mentors with similar goals and aspirations as myself.”

The four cadets will graduate in May of 2019.

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