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2010 News Releases

Longwood ROTC cadet receives national scholarship

November 13, 2010

Nicole Gonder Nicole Gonder

Longwood University ROTC Cadet Nicole Gonder recently was one of two persons to receive a scholarship from the Association of the United States Army (AUSA).

Gonder, a senior from Sterling, received the Joseph P. and Helen T. Cribbins Scholarship, a $2,000 scholarship awarded on the basis of academic merit and personal achievement to an enlisted soldier of any rank currently serving in the active Army, Army Reserve or Army National Guard, as well as honorably discharged enlisted soldiers from any component of the Army, pursuing a degree in engineering or a related field. The scholarship was presented Oct. 25 at an ROTC awards luncheon during AUSA's annual meeting in Washington, D.C. The other recipient also was an ROTC cadet.

The Cribbins Scholarship is usually given to from two to four persons. It was established in 1989 by Joseph Cribbins (1914-2002), one of the foremost experts on aviation logistics, and his wife, who died in 1993. Another Longwood ROTC cadet, Scott Rayburn, also a senior, received the first-time AUSA Scholarship. Only one of these scholarships, of $1,000, was given. Maj. Stephan Ruppel-Lee, assistant professor of military science, who oversees Longwood's ROTC program, said it is extremely rare for a school to have even one cadet receive a scholarship, much less for two students to receive a scholarship, from AUSA, the Army's professional organization.

Gonder attended the awards ceremony along with Maj. Ruppel-Lee and one other Longwood ROTC cadet. The speaker for the event was Gen. Ann Dunwoody, the first and still the only four-star female general in any military branch, whom Gonder met afterward.

"I have been here since August," Maj. Ruppel-Lee said, "and in that short time I have come to regard Cadet Gonder as my go-to cadet for anything of importance that needs to get done to standard and on time. She is intelligent, forward-thinking and has an immense capacity for work. Give Cadet Gonder a task and you can rest assured it will be completed beyond your expectations."

At the Leadership Development and Assessment Course (LDAC), a rigorous 32-day training/assessment event that ROTC cadets across the country attend after their junior year, all of the cadets are judged in several categories and ranked on their overall performance. Gonder, who attended the camp this past summer, was ranked 275th among the 5,433 cadets nationwide who participated, placing her in the top five percent. This is held at Fort Lewis, near Seattle.

Gonder is double-majoring in biology and English, is a member of Beta Beta Beta biology honor society, and is the operations officer, who primarily develops and coordinates training, for the Spider Battalion, the University of Richmond-based ROTC unit to which Longwood's ROTC program is attached. The Spider Battalion has 102 contracted cadets, of whom 18 are from Longwood.

Gonder will be commissioned a second lieutenant upon graduating in December. She will be a  Distinguished Military Graduate, a designation for those who graduate among the top 20 percent of ROTC cadets nationwide based on grades, performance, and various other measurements. Then she will go on active duty in the Army's Military Police, serving a four-year commitment. She has requested to be assigned to Fort Stewart, Ga., but won't learn her assignment until the spring. She is considering making the Army a career.

Originally she had planned to join the Army after graduating, but she changed her mind and joined the ROTC program in fall 2009. Otherwise she would have graduated last year. She has attended four ROTC summer camps, three of which were optional and for which admission is competitive.

In the summer of 2009, because she joined ROTC later than most cadets, she attended the Leader's Training Course at Fort Knox, Ky., an accelerated version of the leadership development training that cadets normally receive their first two years. After completing that program, she officially enrolled in ROTC. In the summer of 2010, she attended Cadet Troop Leader Training at Fort Hood, Texas, then flew immediately afterward to LDAC at Fort Lewis, then flew to Drill Cadet Leadership Training at Fort Jackson, S.C.

She is no stranger to the Army. Her father, now retired, was an Army colonel who served for 25 years, which necessitated the family moving frequently while she was growing up. She was born at Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington, D.C., and she has lived in Belgium, Germany and South Korea, as well as Virginia and Pennsylvania. She is a graduate of Potomac Falls High School, in the Sterling area of Loudoun County, and is the daughter of Richard and Lora Gonder.