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Samantha DeCapua is fourth in national ranking of Army ROTC cadets

samantha decapua

Samantha DeCapua, '17

Widener University senior Samantha DeCapua of Barnegat, N.J., has been ranked fourth in the nation by the U.S. Army Cadet Command in a list of the top Army Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets. Cadet Command annually rank-orders its ROTC seniors based on criteria that include grade point average, performance on the Army Physical Fitness Test, college athletic participation and performance during college ROTC training and Advanced Camp at Fort Knox, Ky. DeCapua was fourth out of 5,508 seniors on this year’s order-of-merit list.

DeCapua, a dual criminal justice and sociology major with a minor in gender and women’s studies, accumulated significant points for her 4.0 grade point average. She also earned additional points for her extracurricular involvement at Widener. She competes in the heptathlon for Widener’s outdoor track and field team and the pentathlon for the indoor team. She is a mentor within the Honor’s Program in General Education, of which she is a member, and she has been inducted into the Alpha Phi Sigma National Criminal Justice Honor Society. She also belongs to Active Minds, a student organization working to break the stigma of mental health through increased awareness, and she has written for Widener’s digital news site, The Blue &Gold. Within Widener’s ROTC program, she serves as cadet battalion commander of the Dauntless Battalion.

Lt. Col. Justin Shaffer, commander of the Dauntless Battalion, said that the Army assigns bonus points to cadets like DeCapua who are involved on campus and in the community. “We are developing the Army's future leaders,” he said. “It is important they understand the value of being engaged in their communities, and Cadet Decapua has done an outstanding job of being engaged on the Widener campus and in the community.”

DeCapua says that she has strived to diversify her activities and excel in both athletics and within Widener’s ROTC to become the best version of herself that she can be. “My journey was much greater than points; it was about striving to grow, learn and develop myself and finding things that I’m passionate about to pursue.”

Shaffer pointed to DeCapua’s attitude and accomplishments as proof that both Widener and the Army are recruiting the right leaders. “The Army and the nation are in good hands,” he said. Shaffer also noted that cadets at Widener have support from both alumni of the university’s predecessor institution, Pennsylvania Military College, and the university’s Oskin Leadership Institute to hone their leadership skills before entering active duty.

DeCapua aspires to enter the Army’s aviation branch as a helicopter pilot when she enters active duty following her commissioning in the spring of 2017. She will learn of her assignment within the next two months.

DeCapua is a 2013 graduate of Barnegat High School. She is the daughter of Anna DeCapua.

Widener is the host institution for Army ROTC cadets from Widener, Penn State-Abington, Penn State-Brandywine, Cheyney University of Pennsylvania, Immaculata University, Neumann University, Villanova University and West Chester University of Pennsylvania. These partnerships help make Widener’s ROTC program one of the largest in the region with 125 active cadets this academic year.

Widener University is a private, metropolitan university that connects curricula to social issues through civic engagement. Dynamic teaching, active scholarship, personal attention, leadership development and experiential learning are key components of the Widener experience. A comprehensive doctorate-granting university, Widener comprises eight schools and colleges that offer liberal arts and sciences, professional and pre-professional curricula leading to associate, baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral degrees. The university’s campuses are in Chester and Harrisburg, Pa., and Wilmington, Del. Visit the university website,