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UNG cadet ranked No. 8 in nation

Cadet 1st Lt. Eric E. Gleason, right, receives a certificate as a Distinguished Military Student from Col. Sean A. Gainey, deputy commanding officer of U.S. Army Cadet Command at Fort Knox, Kentucky, at the recent DMS Review at UNG.

University of North Georgia (UNG) Cadet 1st Lt. Eric E. Gleason of Marietta, Georgia, has been ranked the number eight Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) cadet in the nation from among 5,557 cadets.

Cadets are ranked on the national Order of Merit List (OML) 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 (LDAC). Gleason, who has a 3.96 GPA, attends UNG on the state-funded Georgia Military Scholarship and said he wouldn't have been able to pursue higher education otherwise.

"I am very proud that Cadet Gleason has been named among the best cadets in the nation. His story is a shining example of how students can realize their full potential through access to higher education," said UNG President Bonita C. Jacobs. "His academic excellence and outstanding leadership skills are a testament to his dedication." 

Each fall, in conjunction with their branch selections, all Army ROTC seniors across the nation are ranked in the OML — this year, 5,557 seniors are scheduled to graduate and be commissioned. A cadet's positioning on the OML can determine his or her priority in being chosen for the branch or occupational specialty of choice.

"We are all extremely proud of Eric's accomplishment," said Col. Brent Cummings, professor of military science at UNG. "His achievement is a credit to him and a reflection of the proud and strong history this university has in developing leaders for the U.S. Army. He is following in the footsteps of great military leaders who have commissioned from this school, and we know that he will serve our nation with pride and distinction."

Gleason said he was surprised to learn that he was a top-10 cadet, and attributed his success to those who have supported him in his education and development as a leader.

"Receiving the eighth position out of more than 5,000 cadets really did surprise me," Gleason said. "It really reminded me of all the people from my parents to the array of peer and professional mentors and companions that I've had at UNG, who have instructed, supported, or assisted me in achieving this. I am very grateful to have been able to reflect the expertise and capability that many of my peers and I share."

Gleason is majoring in Spanish with a business emphasis and is pursuing a Russian minor. He is a cadet intern in the Georgia National Guard and serves as a squad observer, trainer and mentor for the Military Science III Leader Development Program. He plans to use the foreign language and culture skills he has polished at UNG to work in a foreign-service role. In September, Gleason also was one of 15 UNG cadets honored by the university as a Distinguished Military Student. He is an active member in Phi Sigma Pi National Honors Fraternity and a member of Sigma Delta Pi, the National Collegiate Hispanic Honor Society.

He is on track to graduate in May, and plans to branch aviation with the Georgia National Guard. Prior to flight training, Gleason intends to enter into Georgia law enforcement or work as an education professional while pursuing master's degrees in Latin American and Eastern European studies.

As a recipient of the Georgia Military Scholarship, Gleason commits to serving four years in the Georgia Army National Guard after graduation. The full scholarship, worth $70,000 over four years, is offered each year only to full-time UNG students serving as enlisted members of the Guard and pays for tuition, books, fees, room, board, and uniforms.

In addition to Gleason, four other UNG cadets also finished in the top 10 percent in the nation — Cadet 2nd Lt. Ryan J. McCaughey of Peachtree City, Georgia; Cadet Maj. Brian M. Smagh of Kennesaw, Georgia; Cadet Maj. Jordan D. Thrun of Ooltewah, Tennessee; and Cadet Capt. William M. Zopff of Harker Heights, Texas. In all, 22 UNG cadets finished in the top 20 percent of the national OML, earning the status of Distinguished Military Graduate.

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