Virginia Tech houses one of the only two senior military colleges in a major state university. To outside students, the life of a cadet can be an everyday mystery. Jacob Gehrt and William Connolly, both freshmen general engineering majors in the Lima company, sat down and explained their year as new Hokies, from arriving in August for New Cadet Week to all of the changes COVID-19 has brought to an already hectic school year.
As a cadet in red phase, the first half of the first semester, one has limited free time and follows strict rules and schedules. Freshmen look forward to white phase, the second half of the first semester and the first half of the second, as this brings some freedom to join clubs and even grow out a little hair for the guys. They can dive deeper into passions through corps, ROTC or university organizations. Connolly has started the tapping process, which is similar to “rushing” a fraternity/sorority, for the Skipper Crew. This crew is one of the plethora of organizations that date back to the beginning of Virginia Tech. The blue phase is from Feb. 19 to April 17, and it is the final step in the “new cadet” process. On April 17, freshmen cadets transition into upperclassmen, a position in which they get to enjoy increased privileges and plan out what new responsibilities they will undertake in their next years on campus.
Gehrt describes the freshman year process as being a follower, where he learns from older cadets such as cadres and commanding officers, and decides how he will lead as an upperclassman as he transitions from one stage to another. Both freshmen expressed their appreciation for the strong bond within their company and the constant process of learning on the job. Freshmen cadets are perpetually surrounded by amazing teachers and mentors, guiding them to a more successful collegiate and professional career. While not every aspect of cadet life is a walk in the park, sharing the entire journey with true friends is something both Gehrt and Connolly are grateful for.
“This experience trains you for the unexpected, so keeping an open mind and remembering why you’re there in the first place is the most important thing to do,” Connolly said.
Both Gehrt and Connolly stressed that dedication and motivation are two characteristics integral to success in the Corps.
After the recent Cadets vs. Civilians snowball fight, one of the biggest (and snowiest) traditions in the Corps of Cadets now seems like the perfect time to reflect on the long-standing relationship between the two sides of campus. Gehrt and Connolly commented on the immense respect and love the community has shown to them and their peers; a mutual understanding that every student, no matter who, will go on to do amazing things.