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      Fourth in the Nation

      Widener's Samantha DeCapua is Fourth in Listing of Nation's Top Army ROTC Seniors

      Samantha DeCapua

      DeCapua, '17, was ranked fourth out of 5,508 Army ROTC seniors by Cadet Command.

      Senior Samantha DeCapua has been overwhelmed with congratulatory messages since learning last week that she ranked fourth in a listing of the top Army Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets. She has been particularly moved by the outreach from Pennsylvania Military College alumni.

      "PMC alumni have contacted me to congratulate me, and they even asked if I'd like to join their Facebook group," said DeCapua. "This may seem like a small gesture, but to me, it is monumental because Widener's Army ROTC strives to carry on the PMC legacy. For these alumni to reach out to me and welcome me into their inner circle was both humbling and rewarding."

      A Well-Rounded Cadet

      DeCapua's accomplishment was no small feat. She placed fourth out of 5,508 seniors on this year's order-of-merit list, which is compiled by Cadet Command. Criteria for the ranking include a cadet's 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.

      Lt. Col. Justin Shaffer, commander of Widener's ROTC Dauntless Battalion, said that the support Widener's Army ROTC Program receives from PMC alumni, coupled with the support it receives from the Oskin Leadership Institute, creates a unique training ground for cadets to develop into exceptional, well-rounded leaders. He noted that this environment helps attract highly motivated and civic-minded individuals like DeCapua.

      DeCapua, a dual criminal justice and sociology major with a minor in gender and women's studies, rose to the top of the Cadet Command ranking largely due to her 4.0 grade point average. She also earned significant points for her extracurricular involvement at Widener.

      "We are developing the Army's future leaders," said Shaffer. "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."

      An Engaged and Passionate Leader

      DeCapua 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.

      DeCapua says that she has endeavored 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.

      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.


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