Caguas, PR- (June 20, 2013)- Sixteen recently graduated college students became officers in the United States Army, by receiving a 2nd Lt. commission during a Reserve Officer Training Corp's (ROTC) ceremony, conducted at the Turabo University, June 20.

"Today you join a long tradition of proud military service from many generations of Puerto Ricans, who have proudly served our nation since the World War One until today in Afghanistan," said Brig. Gen. Fernando Fernandez, senior Army Reserve officer in the Caribbean.

The graduates obtained their college degrees from different universities around the island to include University of Puerto Rico, Interamerican University, Eastern University and the Turabo University.

Among the new officers, ten of them would serve on active duty and six will serve in the US Army Reserve-Puerto Rico.

"Participating in ROTC has been a great experience. I have grown as an individual and as a professional in a way that I never suspected. It was a challenge, but it was not impossible. When you get the rank, you realize that everything was well worth it," said 2nd Lt. Michelle Hartberger-Solano, a San Juan native, who graduated from the University of Puerto Rico with a communications' major.

"I am very proud and honored of serving in the US Army," said 2nd Lt. Jose M. Carrasquillo-Rivera, a Carolina native, who graduated from Universidad del Este.

Carrasquillo-Rivera will serve in the Army Reserve-Puerto Rico at the 246th Quartermaster Company. While serving in the Reserve, he has plans to complete a master degree and to attend law school.

The 16 newly commissioned lieutenants will now travel to the continental United States to complete the Basic Officer Leaders Course, a required second phase of their preparation as officers.

The ROTC was born when President Woodrow Wilson signed the National Defense Act of 1916. Since its inception, Army ROTC has provided leadership and military training at schools and universities across the country and has commissioned more than a half million Officers. It is the largest commissioning source in the American military.

"Remember that there will always be challenging times. When things get though, and believe me they will, remember that you carry on your shoulders the linage of the excellent military service provided by past generations of Puerto Rican officers," added Fernandez.

Considering the high unemployment rates in the island, these graduates most likely have an advantage, as they already have, either a full time or part time job, in one of the most respected institutions in the world; the US military.