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Graduating University of Dayton ROTC cadets rank No. 1 in Ohio

This year's University of Dayton Army ROTC cadet class will graduate and receive their commissions as the top-rated class in Ohio.

The class of 22 cadets includes six who will receive distinguished military graduate designations for being among the top 20% nationally out of approximately 5,700 cadets. Four of them rank among the nation's top 100 cadets, including UD Cadet Battalion Commander Rachel VerDow who ranks 20th.

"​​This record speaks to the challenging yet supportive environment in our ROTC program and on our campus, one that truly provides the education, the strength and the fortitude that new Army officers require," UD President Eric F. Spina said. "UD-formed Army officers are the ones I want to lead our country in times of conflict and in times of peace, as I know they will lead with character, values and a strong sense of ethics."

There are just three other top-100 cadets among the other 38 ROTC programs in Ohio, according to University of Dayton military science department Chair Lt. Col. Matthew Clementz.

Clementz said it was immediately apparent this group would achieve great things. 

"This is a very special group, and it's the No. 1 class in the state of Ohio based on overall academic GPA, military science GPA and leadership evaluations during their time in school, according to the U.S. Army Cadet Command. UD has had a high-performing program for years, but this is exceptional. I can't find any other class here that has reached this level," Clementz said.

VerDow noticed she was part of a competitive but supportive group "the very first day." 

"There is no 'I need to be the best.' Everyone picks each other up. We work really well together," said VerDow, who will graduate with an international studies degree. "It's very rewarding to hear that number, but I also know this program has completely prepared me to reach that. Because of how competitive we are and how we all strive to get better, I think being in that environment has set me up for that. I can't say it's all me, but the people around me."

VerDow said she came to UD because of the size of the program, which she believes allows cadets and instructors to better know each other; the facilities; and the feel for day-to-day cadet life she experienced on her tour. She also appreciated the University community and environment in the student neighborhoods plus opportunities she received between school years to advance her career. She's been able to take a 12-week Russian language course and intern at the National Ground Intelligence Center. One opportunity would have taken her to Kyrgyzstan for the summer if not for the COVID-19 pandemic.

"People here really fight for you to get those slots," she said.

Clementz said highly successful students are attracted to the program because of the University's support for the program, the combination of University and Army scholarships, and the opportunity to serve their country and be a college student. He adds that the success of the class of 2022 is contagious and students want to be part of that, too.

The UD ROTC class of 2022 commissioning ceremony will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 7, at the University of Dayton Arena Flight Deck.

For more information and interviews, please contact Shawn Robinson, associate director of news and communications, at


News and Communications Staff