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Written by Sarah Shelley | Content Development Specialist

These UC graduates are now official members of the U.S. Army Officer Corps.

University of the Cumberlands recently commissioned four now second lieutenants (2 LT) at the Spring 2024 Army ROTC Commissioning Ceremony in the Kohn Theater.

The newly commissioned U.S. Army officers from Cumberlands include 2 LT Zachary Carlsen (Sycamore, IL), 2 LT Chamira Cooper (Coron, CA), 2LT Rylan Reed (Georgetown, KY), and 2 LT Alex Ritchie (Hazard, KY).

The commissioning ceremony is an honored tradition held annually on college campuses across the nation to signify cadets’ completion of both their college degree requirements as well as the Army’s ROTC requirements. During the ceremony on Cumberlands’ campus, cadets recited the Oath of Office, then stood as gold bars were pinned onto their uniforms, denoting their new ranks as second lieutenants. Finally, they received their first salutes. These UC graduates are now official members of the U.S. Army Officer Corps.

Second lieutenant Carlsen will join active duty – armor branch, 2 LT Cooper will join the Kentucky Army National Guard as a member of the Quartermaster Corps, and both 2 LT Reed and 2 LT Ritchie will join active duty – infantry.

“I am extremely proud of everything these four young officers accomplished in their time as cadets at University of the Cumberlands," said Major Colin Corrigan, assistant professor of military science at Cumberlands.  "They are stepping out into the greatest responsibility they could imagine, caring for our nations greatest resource; its sons and daughters.  We wish them all the best of success as they begin their careers.”

Colonel (retired) Steven Sears was the keynote speaker at the commissioning ceremony. Col. Sears graduated from University of the Cumberlands (then Cumberland College) in 1990 with a biology degree. He retired from the Army after serving more than 26 years as a field artillery officer. He served in various leadership positions across America and around the world and completed two combat tours, one in Iraq, the other in Afghanistan. In Iraq, his team developed the Army’s first Counter Mortar Exploitation Team (CMET), which was replicated across the Army. In Afghanistan, his team was instrumental in developing U.S. intelligence capabilities and counter roadside bomb operations in western Afghanistan. He is currently the senior JROTC instructor at Whitley County High School.

Col. Sears participated in his own commissioning ceremony approximately 34 years ago, held in the Gatliff Chapel on campus. During his keynote address, he congratulated the new officers and told them one of his favorite passages from the Bible, in which Jesus explains the meaning of a parable he has told, saying, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked” (Luke 12:48). 

Col. Sears told the new officers, “You have been given much to prepare you for this moment, but now much more will be demanded of you.”

All members of the Cumberlands campus community and ROTC program wish these new second lieutenants all the best in their endeavors.

University of the Cumberlands is a Top 10 Military Friendly® university, working with veterans and current active-duty military members, as well as their families, to make a college education accessible and worthwhile. Cumberlands offers a reduced military rate for some online graduate programs and works with students to determine eligibility for various forms of financial aid. To learn more, visit www.ucumbelrands.edu/military