Things are different today. All junior and senior class leaders undergo a rigorous application and selection process, much like a promotion board in today's military. The experience is great for the cadets, and our track record shows that the right people are chosen--those who are professional at all times, look out for their people, and are ready to lead in the spirit of Ut Prosim (That I May Serve). This fall semester, the regimental commander is Cadet Colonel John Steger, an outstanding example of today's cadet leader.
Steger--pronounced "Stay-ger," unlike the other Steger on campus in a leadership position--was born in Utah, and his family moved to Springfield, Va., when he was 11. He has wanted to be a soldier since he was a child, and in high school, he began to look at colleges with an eye toward preparing for a career as an Army officer. After months of research, Steger found the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets. As a senior in high school, he spent the night here, and he says that he fell in love with the place.
Toward the end of Steger's sophomore year, he interviewed with the incoming Echo Company chain of command to serve as the Echo first sergeant for the fall 2008 semester. Steger says that being put in charge of 22 new cadets was a life-changing experience. In the spring 2009 semester, he moved up to regimental sergeant major, the ranking member of the junior class, where he found that every day presented a new challenge and learning experience.
For his senior year, Steger wanted to give back to the corps of cadets and to lead the regiment in the right direction, so he interviewed for the position of regimental commander. He notes that sitting down in front of the commandant of cadets, the three deputy commandants, and the three ROTC commanders was nerve-wracking. Yet a few weeks later, the commandant, Maj. General Jerry Allen, asked him to serve as regimental commander for the fall 2009 semester.
As regimental commander, Steger says that one of his major goals is to improve retention. "If we do a better job of giving cadets a reason to stay with the corps and to see the many wonderful benefits of being a cadet, we will be a much stronger organization, and we will be able to produce leaders of an even higher caliber." He has plenty of opportunity to lead this fall--the 2009-10 regiment is the largest in the past 40 years.
Steger is representative of the caliber of the young leaders the corps is producing, and he has established his post-graduation goals. He plans to earn a commission in the U.S. Army and hopes to branch into infantry and follow that up with Ranger School. From there, Steger would like to have the honor of serving as a special forces team leader and, when his Army career ends, to settle down in a rural community and teach and coach at a high school. Based on his record thus far, he will achieve any goal he sets for himself.
Col. Rock Roszak '71, USAF (Ret.), is the alumni director for the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets.