Texas A&M’s Corps of Cadets, the nation’s largest, will be under the command of a woman next year for the first time ever, the school announced on Monday.
Corps Sgt. Maj. Alyssa Marie Michalke, 20, will take command on May 9. Michalke is a junior with a dual major in ocean and civil engineering.
“I am deeply honored to have been selected to serve as the next Corps Commander and will do my very best to uphold the tradition of leading my fellow cadets, while also continuing to learn and grow,” Michalke said in a news release from the school.
The Corps of Cadets is over 2,400 members strong, with units including the band and the official honor guard for the governor of Texas. Many know the Corps for its Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band, a precision military band that plays at many of Texas A&M’s football games.
But at the core of the Corps, its mission is to prepare men and women for leadership roles in two U.S. service branches. All members of the corps take ROTC courses their freshman and sophomore years. The Corps has specialized units to prepare cadets for the elite Army Rangers or Navy SEALs.
More cadets have been commissioned into the armed services from Texas A&M than any other university in the nation, with the exception of the service academies themselves.
Seven members of the Corps who joined the military have been awarded the Medal of Honor, given to American soldiers who display conspicuous “gallantry above and beyond the call of duty.”
Michalke will be the first women to lead the Corps since the school’s founding 139 years ago. She “was selected because she was the best cadet for the position, not because she is female,” Brig. Gen. Joe Ramirez Jr., commandant of the Corps, said in a release.
While Michalke will take command of the Corps, she won’t be its highest ranking member. That honor is reserved for Reveille, a pure-bred American collie who is also the mascot for the school and is taken care of by Corps Company E-2.
School tradition requires that if Reveille falls asleep on a cadet’s bed, that cadet must sleep on the floor.