Selected among students from institutions such as Harvard University, the University of Connecticut and the University of California, Gannon University’s Kayla Amsler earned the prestigious honor of Distinguished Military Graduate, ranking among the top 1 percent of students involved in the ROTC program nationally.
In addition to earning the 71st spot among some 5,592 ROTC cadets across the country, Amsler is also a George C. Marshall Award winner, which nationally recognizes the top cadets for leadership and dedication.
“I’m not sure that I did anything ‘outstanding’ to receive such an honor as being in the top 1 percent,” Amsler said. “For me, it has merely been about taking hold of opportunities as they are offered and jumping in with both feet.”
Amsler’s achievements, however, are nothing short of outstanding.
In addition to maintaining an exceptional academic standing at the university, she participated in Gannon’s competition team, ran in the Army 10-miler in Washington, D.C., jumped out of an airplane in Fort Benning, Ga., to earn her Airborne wings, and visited South Korea, where she shadowed a second lieutenant in an actual unit.
As a part of the Cultural Understanding and Language Immersion Program, or CULP, Amsler was given the opportunity to travel abroad to Peru, where she lived in the small village of Ayacucho along with seven other cadets from across the country.
There she volunteered her time at a local health clinic and assisted mentally handicapped children at a specialized school, all while learning about a new culture.
“It was definitely the most eye-opening experience of my life,” Amsler said. “It’s hard to imagine the poverty, rubble and dirt that other people throughout our world live in every day until you experience it for yourself.”
Following graduation and commissioning as a second lieutenant in May, Amsler will begin studying for her master’s in the physician assistant program in Savannah, Ga. After graduating with her master’s degree in August, she will attend the Basic Officer Leadership course at Fort Sam Houston in Texas, before starting her four years of active duty as a physician assistant in the Army.
Amsler will be commissioning with fellow Gannon cadets Seth Brown and Shernelle James, as well as 10 other cadets from Mercyhurst University and Penn State Behrend, who are also a part of the Pride of PA Battalion.
Amsler reflects on her experiences in ROTC and, though she said at times it can be challenging, she encourages dedicated students to join.
“Being a cadet has helped me develop skills of leadership, decision-making and the importance of planning,” Amsler said. “The ROTC program has granted me the opportunity to do what I love in a military setting where I can serve the men and women, and their families, who support and defend our country on a daily basis.”
Lt. Col. Bradley Nadig, a professor of military science for Gannon’s Army ROTC program, said he stresses that Amsler’s achievements and the success of the ROTC program speaks volumes about the Gannon student body.
“It’s not just about the ROTC program,” Nadig said. “It’s about Gannon University.
“This program fulfills Gannon’s mission of preparing students to be global citizens. We can see that Gannon lives up to the intention of fostering an appreciation of the global world in its students.”
Any student is interested in joining Gannon University’s ROTC program should call 814-871-ROTC or visit www.prideofpa.com.