Graduation day will quite literally be both an ending and beginning for Palm Beach Atlantic University senior Nathaniel Herndon.
|Joseph Puccio, left, and Nathaniel Herndon will be the first graduates of Palm Beach Atlantic's ROTC program.|
Herndon, one of the first two graduates of the University’s ROTC program, will receive a bachelor’s degree in ministry leadership studies during the spring commencement ceremony at the Palm Beach County Convention Center on Saturday. Later that evening, he will receive his commission as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army.
The following week, Herndon will report for training at Fort Lee in Virginia. The Delray Beach resident later will join the Army’s Transportation Corps Branch and will be stationed at Fort Lewis in Washington with the 593rd Sustainment Brigade.
As an officer, Herndon’s duties will include leading a team of 40 men, some of whom have already been on the battlefield. It is a responsibility he said he accepts with honor and humility.
"God equips you for what he calls you to. He has given me the tools," he said.
"I’m ready to seize the moment. I’m ready to learn as much as I can. I’m ready to lead."
Herndon, whose primary studies were in PBA’s School of Ministry, considered becoming an Army chaplain. But "he felt that the greater witness was being in the foxhole with the men," said Herndon’s wife of two years, Tiffany, who will receive her degree in biblical studies from PBA on Saturday.
Herndon and another graduating senior, Joseph Puccio, enrolled as cadets in the ROTC program when it began three years ago. Herndon transferred from Florida Atlantic University, and Puccio transferred from a school in his home state of New Jersey.
The ROTC program has grown to more than a dozen students in various majors who have elected military science as their minor. They train with their counterparts at FAU.
Puccio graduates this week with a degree in biology. He is due to receive his commission with the Army’s Quartermaster Branch in a few weeks.
He said he joined the ROTC program out of a sense of patriotism. "I’m definitely very excited to finally start my career in the Army," Puccio said.