Friends, family and military staff attended the U.S. Air Force and Army commissioning ceremonies May 18, where former ROTC cadets were sworn in as formal members of the military in Whitley Auditorium.

The first ceremony took place in the morning and featured guest speaker U.S. Air Force Major Ashton Ross ’02. Ross was also a part of the ROTC program during her time at Elon and currently is the J1 Branch Chief of Military Readiness at the National GeoSpatial-Intelligence Agency, which is located in Springfield, Virginia. 

U.S. Air Force Capt. Geoff Adams also provided remarks at the event. 

“The commissioning ceremony is a time-honored tradition," Adams said. “I’m so proud of them.” 

During the ceremony, Elon seniors Claire McGrath, Arran Ponte and Lauren Singles were sworn in and pinned with their rank on each of their shoulders. As part of the ROTC program, all three students were cadets assigned to the U.S. Air Force ROTC Detachment 605, known as the “Screaming Blackbirds,” which is based out of North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro.

U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Debra Graham, who currently serves as the commander of the Fifth Battalion of the Army Reserve Careers Group, served as the guest speaker for the Army ceremony — which took place in the afternoon. . 

Elon seniors 2nd Lt. Robert Dalton, 2nd Lt. Jillian Engels and 2nd Lt. Isabella Piccirilli were all sworn in as members of the Army. As cadets, all three were of “Aggie Battalion” at N.C. A&T. 

“Make no mistake. You are ready, you've already proven you're up to the challenge because you're here today,” Graham said in her remarks. “You completed rigorous physical training, challenged mentally and spiritual testing.”

Jenna Manderioli contributed to the reporting of this story.