By Brooklyn Brown
A United States Marine Corps Officers Commissioning Ceremony took place Monday, May 15, in the conference room at Western Carolina University’s Blue Ridge Residence Hall for spring graduates Jonathan Lehe, Sydney Gallant and Caleb Hill.
Officer Lehe, from Moorsville, graduated this May with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. He will be attending The Basic School for officers and then flight school to become a pilot in the Marine Corps. For Lehe, the Officers Commissioning Ceremony is one step closer to fulfilling his dream.
“It’s literally a dream come true. I grew up near Fort Worth, Texas, and I would watch the helicopters go over when I was little,” Lehe said. “Everything I've done – school, track – has been leading up to becoming a pilot. I’m officially on my course and starting my dream.”
Lehe is a pole vaulter on the WCU track and field team alongside his teammate and fellow Marine Corps officer Gallant. Lehe and Gallant were able to support each other as student-athletes and in the Platoon Leaders Class program.
“It's really, really cool having someone else in the program that you’re close to and can talk to about it and who understands what you’re going through,” Lehe said.
Gallant earned her degree in traditional mathematics and plans on becoming a combat engineer.
“I’ve been wanting to do this for ten plus years. My dad is a retired Marine and he was in for 21 years,” she said. “I grew up watching him do all this cool stuff and I just wanted to be able to do that, too.”
Before TBS, Gallant wants to compete in a few more summer track meets and then travel to the Himalayas.
Officer Hill is from Belmont and earned his degree in marketing. Hill will go active duty for two years and then go into the reserves where he will work a civilian job in sales and marketing.
“This is the culmination of all the training we’ve done,” Hill said. “I’m finally commissioning as an officer in the Marine Corps. I fell in love with the culture of it and the people in it. It's a people business.”
Captain Kailey C. Horkan, a graduate student pursuing her master’s in human resources, commissioned the new officers.
“I think sometimes people think college and the military are on two opposite sides of the spectrum,” Horkan said. “A college education can further your ability to lead in your role in the military. There are so many avenues for diverse education backgrounds in the military. You can be in the military and pursue a college education.”