By Karla L. GonzalezJanuary 16, 2009
Two U.S. Army ROTC Cadets have joined an elite group of men and women to include a president, secretary of state, speaker of the house and member of the Supreme Court.
Cadets Stephen J. Hammer and Gregory E. Lippiatt were recently awarded Rhodes Scholarships to attend the world famous University of Oxford in England.
More than 1,500 students each year seek the endorsement of their college or university for this scholarship, according to The Rhodes Trust. In 2008, 769 students were endorsed by their school with only 32 making the final cut.
Hammer, 22, is a senior at Princeton University where he is completing a Bachelor's degree in the Classics. As a member of the University's ROTC program, he has excelled physically, tactically and shown himself to be a top notch leader - all attributes sought in the selection of Rhodes Scholars.
Lippiatt, 22, is from York, Pa., and attends Virginia Military Institute pursuing a double major in History and English. He was a member of the Honor Platoon during his stint at the Leadership Development and Assessment Course during the summer and ranks in the top 10 percent of Cadets for this year's national order of merit list.
Recipients of the Rhodes Scholarship receive an all-expense paid education for two or three years, depending on the course of study, to the University of Oxford in England. Scholars from America and 13 jurisdictions around the world, such as Australia, Pakistan, Southern Africa and Germany make up the nearly 80 worldwide scholarship recipients.
As future Army Officers, the Rhodes Scholarship offers the Cadets the opportunity to work with other international students and to learn about different cultures. Hammer and Lippiatt also expect to learn about views others have of America.
"I think engaging with students from an international background will improve my understanding of America's image in the world," Hammer said. "It will be especially interesting to learn how international students view America's military and our role in today's conflicts. Understanding these issues will make me a more perceptive officer."
Lippiatt agrees, "I think a better understanding of other cultures is crucial to being a good officer, as it forces one to look at situations from more than one perspective. Particularly given the United States' current conflicts, cultural sensitivity is absolutely essential. Furthermore, I think it is good to communicate with people from other countries about the United States' position in the globe. Understanding why many other nations are upset with the current U.S. foreign policy is very important, as is serving as a sort of social ambassador for the United States to citizens of other countries."
The ROTC S-A-L, scholar-athlete-leader, qualities match several of the criteria of a Rhodes Scholar - high academic achievement, integrity of character, a spirit of unselfishness, respect for others, potential for leadership and physical vigor.
"ROTC has been a great experience in leadership development," Hammer said. "I have learned the importance of confident, decisive leadership, effective delegation and utilization of subordinates and the development of clear, concise orders. Most of all, I am constantly reminded of the importance of loyalty to the Army and the nation and of the sacrifices so many Soldiers endure on behalf of the country."
Hammer is the cadet executive officer of the Princeton University Tiger Battalion, and has been given numerous awards. To name a few - he is the recipient of the Platoon Leadership Award, which is awarded to the top cadet in each platoon at the Leadership Development and Assessment Course, referred to as LDAC. He received the Recondo Badge for physical fitness, land navigation, marksmanship and tactical leadership during LDAC as well as the National Defense Industrial Association Award which is awarded to one cadet in the battalion based on academic, leadership and ROTC performance. He is also ranked number 25 of 4,400 senior Cadets on the National Order of Merit List.
Hammer plans to pursue a masters of philosophy in theology while attending Oxford.
Lippiatt, the battalion commander for VMI's Corps of Cadets, attributes his leadership development to both VMI and ROTC. "The Ratline in my first year at VMI taught me how to deal with intense pressure and seemingly impossible demands on my time and in my standards," he said. "I found out what I was made of spiritually, and have used that since in my experience as a leader in ROTC and in the VMI Corps of Cadets..."
Lippiatt plans to pursue a masters of studies degree in medieval history and hopes to extend that degree to a doctor of philosophy degree in history.
Both Cadets have applied to Magdalen College, a part of Oxford University, will travel to England the end of September 2009 and begin their studies in October.