Four Claflin University Seniors Complete South Carolina State University's Bulldog Battalion Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) Program
May 12, 2017
Four Claflin University graduating seniors have completed South Carolina State University's Bulldog Battalion Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) program and earned active duty commission in the United States Army. They were commissioned with the rank of Second Lieutenant (O-1) at the ROTC Commissioning Ceremony at South Carolina State University on Thursday, May 11 at 2 p.m. They will also be recognized at Claflin University’s 147th Commencement Convocation on Saturday, May 13 at 11:00 a.m., at the Seventh-day Adventist Worship and Convention Center on Neeses Highway in Orangeburg.
Since 1967, Claflin University has offered Air Force and Army ROTC programs through a cross enrollment agreement with South Carolina State University. The pilot program began with 13 students. Officially signed in 1972, the program was coordinated by the late Charles H. Johnson, dean of Student Affairs (1967-1986). By 1977, there were 107 students enrolled in the program, both males and females. “The ROTC Cross-Enrollment Program was the largest unit on campus during that time and it was due to Mr. Johnson’s desire and determination for it to be successful,” said Dr. Henry N. Tisdale, president of Claflin University. “Numerous students have gone on to successful military careers as a result of this program and we are equally as proud of this year’s line-up of cadet graduates,” he said. To date, a total of 123 cadets have been commissioned as second lieutenant through the program.
Meet Claflin’s 2017 ROTC graduates:
Akalyah Gilliard, a psychology major, has been assigned to the Field Artillery Corps in the United States Army. She will report to Fort Bliss in Texas for Basic Officer Leadership Course (BOLC-B) and then be stationed at Fort Sill in Oklahoma. Gilliard is the first female graduate from Claflin University to be selected for a combat support assignment.
“I'm very excited for the start of my Army career. Being assigned to a combat arms branch, especially as the first female to do so from Clalfin University, is something I'm very proud of,” said Gilliard. “But even more so, I think this reflects where the Army is headed with increasing opportunities for women,” she said.
Gilliard graduated with a 2.93 cumulative grade point average. She decided to join the Army because she wanted to serve her country, and believes Claflin prepared her to do so. “My experience at Claflin has helped me blossom in so many ways. Not only has Claflin prepared me for my career, but it also prepared me for life,” said Gilliard. “I gained skills that cannot be taught. Through interaction with fellow students, professors, internship supervisors, and coworkers, as well as other college staff, I earned a ‘degree’ in people and social skills that I did not expect,” she said.
Rashodd Howze, a sociology major, has been assigned to the Adjutant General Corps with a branch detail in the Chemical Corps of the United States Army. He will report for training at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri. After he completes training, Howze will be stationed at Schofield Barracks in Oahu, Hawaii.
Howze originally wanted to serve as a military intelligence officer. However, his area of service was chosen based on the needs of the Army. Although the Adjutant General Corps wasn’t his original choice, Howze counts it an honor to still serve his country. “There is no higher calling than that of serving your fellow countrymen,” said Howze. “Claflin has prepared me for this duty and helped hone my adaptability skills,” said Howze. “My experiences here showed me how to walk in many facets of life and that is one thing you have to do in the military because things are forever changing,” he said.
While at Claflin, Howze served as sophomore class senator, Mister Junior, a member of MOVERS (Men of Valor Emphasizing Respect and Service) and Claflin Men100. He is also a member of the Delta Alpha Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. Howze is graduating with a cumulative grade point average of 3.69.
Connie Sherow, a criminal justice major, has been assigned to the Quartermaster Corps in the United States Army. She will report to Fort Lee in Virginia for Basic Officer Leadership Course (BOLC) and also for Aerial Delivery & Material Officer Course, also known as Rigger School. After training, she will be stationed at Vicenza, Italy.
Sherow made a decision to join the Army for “better opportunities and for a better future.” She believes Claflin has helped prepare her for this new chapter in her life. “The Claflin Confidence was instilled me through my experiences over the last four years. I feel as though I'm ready to take on any obstacle that stands in my way,” she said. While at Claflin, Sherow served as the cadet battalion commander and earned a cumulative grade point average of 3.5.
Brittany Singletary, a criminal justice major, has been assigned to the Finance Corps in the United States Army. Singletary is also being recognized as a Distinguished Military Graduate, a designation only given to those who rank in the top 20 percent of Army ROTC graduates nationwide. “Being the Distinguished Military Graduate is very humbling,” said Singletary who has a 3.73 cumulative grade point average.
“I have worked hard and some may even say I deserve the award. But I know it's a just one of many blessings from God,” she said.
Singletary will report to Fort Knox, Kentucky where she will be an Observer Trainer Mentor. After that, she will report to Fort Jackson in South Carolina for the Basic Officer Leadership Course (BOLC). Upon completion of BOLC, she will be stationed at Fort Carson in Colorado for three years. “Throughout my matriculation at Claflin I have improved my public speaking skills, gained ‘Claflin Confidence’ in everything I do, and grown spiritually,” said Singletary. “With these new skills, I believe I am prepared for the transition to perform my duties,” she said.
While a student at Claflin, Singletary served as the public relations officer for Psychology Club, member of The Criminal Justice Society, member of Alpha Theta Chapter of Alpha Kappa Mu Honor Society, and a member of Pi Upsilon Chapter of Alpha Phi Sigma National Criminal Justice Honor Society.
Not only did the late Charles H. Johnson spearhead the ROTC agreement, he was also the driving force for the Veteran’s Monument being constructed on Claflin’ s campus. Johnson wanted to honor veterans who attended or were employed at Claflin. Now Claflin alumnus Dr. Willie Frazier, '75, is seeing this dream come to fruition as a co-chair of the Veterans Monument Steering Committee and a member of the University's Board of Trustees. "This was a dream of Mr. Johnson, so we're trying to support it," said Frazier who is a retired colonel who gave 30 years of his life in service to the United States Army.
The monument will consist of name, history and donor walls and monument will be constructed beside the James and Dorothy Z. Elmore Chapel. Dedication ceremony is set for May 29 - Memorial Day.