Nathaniel Herndon was officially the first cadet to sign up for Palm Beach Atlantic University's new Army ROTC program three years ago. He hasn't stopped leading the way ever since.
Now a senior, Herndon and fellow cadet Joseph Puccio will be the first to graduate from the program this spring.
|PBA senior ROTC Cadets Joseph Puccio, left, and Nathaniel Herndon|
On Wednesday, the two received special recognition during the University's first ROTC Cadet Salute Luncheon in the Weyenberg Center. Both seniors are on track for highly competitive active duty officer positions after graduation, Herndon with the Army's Transportation Corps Branch and Puccio with the Quartermaster Branch.
Herndon received a number of additional awards during the ceremony, including recognition for Leadership Development Assessment Course (LDAC) completion; the Southern Strike Recondo Badge for superior performance during LDAC; the Ranger Challenge team competition; Army Physical Fitness Test patch; Gold Medal Athlete award; Cadet Scholar Award Ribbon for cadets with a GPA between 2.90 and 3.19; ROTC Honors for earning a 4.0 GPA in military science classes last spring; and Leader Stakes certificate for being a member of the Honor Platoon.
Herndon also was recognized for completing his four-year ROTC scholarship to PBA.
Lt. Col. James Davis, who teaches military science, described Herndon as a model soldier. "He has a heart. Once he gets his mind on something, he can do it," he said. "The sky is the limit."
Herndon said he believes there is a great need for officers who serve with a heart dedicated to the Lord.
"I felt that if I'm an able-bodied man, I need to be a part of defending what is so taken for granted, the freedoms we enjoy," Herndon said.
Like Herndon, Puccio also received multiple honors, including LDAC completion, completion of a three-year scholarship and ROTC Honors.
Over the past three years, the ROTC program has grown to more than a dozen students who have chosen military science as a minor. The students train with their counterparts at Florida Atlantic University.
Many of them are enrolled in PBA's School of Nursing and plan to help fill the need for Army nurses. "What we've created is a center of excellence for producing nurses for the Army," said Maj. Kenneth Harris, PBA's senior military science instructor.
Others, like Herndon, are pursuing other majors. Herndon is majoring in ministry leadership.
Hosting Wednesday's luncheon were the Southern Strike Army ROTC Battalion, Miami Recruiting Battalion and PBA's Rinker School of Business, which offers the military science minor.
Others recognized on Wednesday included:
- Gabriel Monfiston, a junior - Cadet Honors Award (for a semester GPA between 3.20 and 3.49); ROTC Honors; LDAC completion
- Vanessa Garza, a sophomore - Cadet Scholar Award; ROTC Honors
- Trisha Storck, a junior - ROTC Honors
- Loren Wilkins, a junior - ROTC Honors