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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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A change in the ranks

Senior+staff+members+and+commanders+in+the+Corps+each+carry+a+saber+at+Final+Review.
Photo by Photo by Ethan Dias

Senior staff members and commanders in the Corps each carry a saber at Final Review.

Almost exactly one year ago, Alyssa Michalke marched onto Simpson Drill Field with four silver diamonds on each lapel, a symbol of her new rank within the Corps: The first female commander in the Texas A&M Corps of Cadets’ 139-year history.  

“It was just an overwhelming sense of responsibility, of pride in an organization of itself and the leaders that it raises and also a feeling of excitement,” Michalke said. “I was extremely excited to take over the Corps and to work with so many of these great, outstanding leaders who I knew would challenge me and develop me to become a better leader and so that we could produce leaders of character throughout all four years in the Corps.”

Final Review is a time to say goodbye to the graduating senior class, who marches in the first formal pass only. At this time, they are reviewed by the commandant of the Corps before acknowledging next year’s seniors as the new leadership. 

On Saturday, Michalke once again stood in front of the entire Corps of Cadets, but this time in farewell during the first pass of Final Review. 

“It’s a little bittersweet, a little surreal,” Michalke said. “If you had told me four years ago when I signed up that one day I would end up leading and commanding this amazing organization, I would have told you [that] you probably hit your head too hard when you got out of bed in the morning.”

In looking back on each of her four years, though, Michalke said her experiences in the Corps have made her a better Aggie, leader and student in addition to giving her some of the best friends of her life.

“I wish I could do it again, and if you told me to be a fish all over again next year, I might sign up — even though I know how tough it is and how challenging it is,” Michalke said. “I just might sign up all over again and just do it because it just meant so much to me. And sure, it’s challenging, and sure it’s not easy, but I’m going to miss it.”

In her time as Corps Commander, Michalke aimed to create a culture of academic success, and professionalism.

“We wanted to make sure the Corps was something that we could be proud of when we marched off the field,” Michalke said. “We wanted to make sure we left the Corps better than we found it … Not just great physical fitness, but the overall quality of cadets that are in this organization. And I’m proud to say that throughout all the work that my subordinates and my peers have produced, we’ve accomplished that.”

Michalke will be succeeded by Cecille Sorio, a meteorology junior. Like Michalke did, Sorio has big goals for the Corps next year, including academic excellence and professional development.

“One thing that I do want to capitalize on is furthering our identity as a military-based leadership program,” Sorio said. “We’re not just any leadership organization. We’re rooted in military tradition and live it out every day. Beyond that, however, we have the perfect environment to develop leadership skills applicable to both the military and civilian sectors.”

Sorio said she’s excited to work among a group of visionary cadets to refine operations and set the tone for carrying out their vision in the upcoming year. Sorio also said Michalke was clear and transparent in her leadership, leaving a solid foundation for next year’s Corps Staff. 

“I’ve heard so many people across the Quad say things like, ‘Know your people,’” Sorio said. “Well, beyond learning about each of our units, she also flipped it around and let people know her too. Leadership goes both ways, and I admire her for embodying just that.”

Brigadier Gen. Joe Ramirez Jr., commandant of Cadets at Texas A&M, said Michalke was a leader and team-builder among the cadets. 

“You can give her any mission and she’ll do it,” Ramirez said. “She knows how to deal with difficult situations. She’s cool and calm when she needs to be, when the situation is the most difficult. She brings all the intangibles that you look for in a leader at that level. And she did it in spades this year.”

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