DENMARK, S.C. (courtesy voorhees.edu) — Joshua Gayle, president of the Voorhees College Student Government Association, is the first Voorhees student selected to serve as a cadet battalion commander in the South Carolina State University (SCSU) Army ROTC program in more than 20 years. The announcement was made recently by the SCSU Army ROTC, which serves Voorhees and other colleges and universities in the area.
Gayle, recently named an HBCU Scholar by the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, takes pride and responsibility in his new role as cadet battalion commander. “To me being the battalion commander means being there for my cadets,” he said. “Being a leader is about being selfless and taking care of your cadets/soldiers as much as it does taking charge and leading from the front.”
“Cadet Gayle is a proven leader in scholarship, in student leadership and now in military activities associated with the SCSU Army ROTC. We, at Voorhees College, are proud of him as he exemplifies our efforts to produce highly qualified graduates who coalesce intellect and faith in pursuit of life-long learning, healthy living, the betterment of society, and an abiding faith in God,” said Charlene Johnson, Voorhees vice president for student affairs and athletics director.
According to Antonio Pittman, professor of military science at SCSU, Gayle not only possesses but exceeds the qualifications necessary to be a cadet battalion commander. He is a proven leader. He is committed to service and he cares about his cadet colleagues.
“Cadet Gayle is by far, hands down, the most dedicated cadet in this program,” said Pittman. “He leads from the front in everything that he does and is ‘ALWAYS’ in the right place, on time and in the right uniform. He drives 37 minutes from Voorhees College Monday, Wednesday and Friday for physical training (PT) at 0600 and usually beats most there and stays later in most cases. He is never late or misses PT, class and/or any events that he is required to attend. Always has a smile on his face, well-mannered and well-liked amongst his peers.”
Gayle will be responsible for all battalion activities including supervising and providing guidance for battalion staff officers, company commanders and the battalion command sergeant major; building an effective chain of command and developing a positive command climate; ensuring cadet compliance with policies and procedures of the program; serving as a link between all cadets and the professor of military science; advising the professor of military science on matters concerning cadets; and providing guidance and feedback to events staff.
“Under his tutelage as the battalion commander, there is no telling how far he will catapult the program. I look forward to working with Cadet Gayle this next school year in Army ROTC as well as helping him become a better version of himself for himself. Overall, future Second Lieutenant Joshua Gayle will make a great army officer; he is the best of what SCSU has to offer to the Army,” Pittman said.
“I see myself having a career in the military — a long-term career. It sounds a bit ambitious to say, but I hope to reach the rank of general. In the short term, I hope to be a field artillery officer, and go through all of the command and staff positions,” Gayle said.
Speaking about motivation regarding his leadership and academic success, Gayle said, “What’s motivated me so far are the young junior cadet that had the feeling and idea to become an officer, the instructors who saw something more in him, and his mother who told him he could do anything he set his mind and time to.”
Voorhees College joined the SCSU Army ROTC program in 1968 through a cross enrollment agreement. Since that time, 71 Voorhees students have been commissioned through the program, with some of those students achieving the rank of colonel. The SCSU Army ROTC program, established in 1947, averages approximately 150 cadets annually and is recognized as one of the largest producers of minority officers for the United States Army.