(March 25, 2015) Cadet Capt. Jonathan Chase Strickland, a member of the University of North Georgia (UNG) Corps of Cadets, was honored March 25 by Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal and both chambers of the state legislature for his ranking as top Army ROTC cadet in the United States.
"We're here today to pay tribute to an exceptionally outstanding young cadet – Jonathan Chase Strickland," Deal said in a ceremony held at the Georgia state capitol to honor Strickland. "Chase, you bring great credit to your family, to the University of North Georgia, to the state of Georgia and to our nation as a whole. We commend you for your determination that has gotten you to this point. I want you to know that you have the well wishes and best regards of the people of our state and we all will watch with pride as your career progresses."
This year, Strickland received the top ranking as U.S. Army Cadet Command's Cadet of the Year out of 5,617 ROTC cadets scheduled to graduate and commission during the 2014-15 academic year. A native of Gainesville, Georgia, Strickland is a graduate of North Hall High School and the son of Jon Strickland and Tracy Strickland.
Strickland received a governor's commendation at the ceremony hosted by Gov. and Mrs. Deal in the North Wing of the Georgia Capitol. Resolutions also were presented by Sen. Steve Gooch, a UNG alumnus, in the Georgia Senate and by Rep. Carl Rogers of Gainesville in the Georgia House."It is an honor to be here today and I'm very grateful to you for honoring Cadet Strickland in this way," UNG President Bonita Jacobs said from the floor of the state Senate and state House. "We are so very proud of his accomplishments."
Each fall, in conjunction with their branch selections, ROTC cadets from around the country are ranked in a national Order of Merit List (OML). The OML ranks all Army ROTC seniors across the nation. Cadets are ranked by achieving superior grade point averages, strong performance in the Army physical fitness test, proving their worth as exceptional leaders in their college ROTC training, and their performance at the Leader Development and Assessment Course. Five UNG cadets, including Strickland, finished in the top 10 percent in the national rankings.
"This has been a special opportunity. I'm honored to be here and to have the chance to speak to the Senate and the House and recognize my family, the University of North Georgia, the Army and the National Guard," Cadet Strickland said. "It's been a proud moment in my life and a big stepping stone in my career."
This past fall, Strickland studied abroad in Rome, Italy, at the NATO Defense War College and will graduate from UNG in May 2015 with a degree in international relations with a Middle East concentration. Strickland is on track to graduate summa cum laude with a 4.0 GPA. He will commission as a second lieutenant in military intelligence and plans to attend Infantry Basic Officer Leader School in Fort Benning, Georgia.
"Seeing that people have picked up on Chase's humility the first time some of them have met him is the biggest thing I'll take away from today," Jon Strickland said. "I think that's how he's gotten to where he is today. He basically just wakes up every day and tries to do the right thing – as corny as that may sound – and just gives 100 percent effort in everything he does. And I also just want to thank the University of North Georgia for making this day so special."
One of only six Senior Military Colleges in the United States, UNG is designated as The Military College of Georgia and as a University System of Georgia leadership institution. The other Senior Military Colleges are the Citadel, Norwich, Texas A&M University, Virginia Tech and Virginia Military Institute.
UNG's Corps of Cadets has more than 800 students and will commission 83 officers in 2015, a record-high number. Nearly a third of those cadets are ranked in the top 20 percent of their class, nationally, and will earn the status of Distinguished Military Graduate.