At Centre College’s 196th Commencement, Clark Smith ’19 (Lexington, Kentucky) not only received a bachelor’s degree from the College but also graduated from the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) program. John Grise ‘19 (Bowling Green, Kentucky) was also commissioned as a Second Lieutenant after completing a marine corps program.
As part of Commencement festivities, Centre also dedicated a Patriot Elm above the Sinking Springs area on the Main Street side of Old Centre to honor alumni, students and friends of the College who have served in the armed forces—past, present and future.
Major General Kirk F. Vollmecke ’84 was a guest at the ceremony. He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in May 1984, as a distinguished military graduate. He is currently the program executive officer for intelligence, electronic warfare and sensors at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland.
Centre students may participate in the ROTC programs of either the U.S. Army or U.S. Air Force through a partnership with the University of Kentucky. Two-year and four-year programs are available, and most courses are offered on the University of Kentucky campus. Winners of competitive three-and four-year ROTC scholarships receive, in addition to their support from the Army or Air Force, room and board coverage for the period of the ROTC experience. Students may be eligible for additional scholarships or financial aid.
Graduating with a degree in economics and finance, Grise will report to The Basic School (TBS) at the Marine Corps Base Quantico in Virginia as a ground contract Second Lieutenant.
TBS is the basic officer’s course that all new officers must pass before being assigned their Military Occupational Specialty (MOS).
Grise completed the Platoon Leaders Course in order to earn a commission, attending a 10-week Officer Candidate School (OCS) at the Marine Corp Base Quantico during the summer of 2018.
“Overall, it’s a fantastic program, and I am extremely glad and grateful to have had the opportunity,” he said. “Still, OCS is a fairly rigorous program, and being selected to go in the first place is extremely competitive. A large emphasis is put on physical fitness both during the application phase and at OCS. At the end, every candidate comes out with a firm grasp on what it means and takes to be a leader and the necessary foundation for being a marine officer.”
Also graduating with a degree in economics and finance, Smith will be an active duty army infantry officer. He will be moving to Benning, Georgia, in August for the Infantry Basic Officer Leaders Course.
“ROTC has kept me very disciplined during college,” Smith said. “It has been difficult to manage having to travel to Lexington frequently and balance life at Centre, but I have learned a lot. It has prepared me well for my future in the army and in general.
“Centre has been an amazing place to spend my undergraduate time,” he continued. “I’m extremely grateful for all of the friends and memories that I have made here. It’s very bittersweet to leave, but Centre has prepared me well, and I am excited for the next chapter of my life.”
by Kerry Steinhofer
May 21, 2019