James Babich Jr., a psychology major in the Honors Program, joined Army ROTC at Stetson as a first-year student. His father is a Marine Corps veteran, and Jr. contracted to become a cadet “as soon as possible,” he wrote. Also, he met his wife, a fellow student at Stetson, during his sophomore year, and they married in March.
Now, following graduation with a degree in psychology, Babich Jr. is heading off as a second lieutenant in the Ordnance Corps (active duty), and then he will attend the Basic Officer Leader Course at Fort Lee, Virginia.
Georgina Boardley is a native of England who moved with her family to Central Florida at age 9. Always interested in medicine, she graduates from Stetson with a degree in health sciences. After gaining her American citizenship in 2017, Boardley joined Army ROTC as a sophomore and excelled while also being an especially active student on campus with the Delta Delta Delta sorority and Phi Eta Sigma honor society.
Boardley is leaving Stetson as a second lieutenant in the Medical Service Corp (reserve duty) and will attend BOLC at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas, and eventually pursue medical school.
By the time Alyssa Dunstone arrived on campus, she knew all about the military. Her father is retired from field artillery duty, and young Dunstone moved often because of his service, including Germany, Kansas and Central Florida, where she attended high school.
Dunstone spent all four of her years at Stetson in Army ROTC and this year ranked among the top 10% of her commissioning class nationwide. Additionally, she attended a Cultural and Leadership program in Mongolia, followed by Advanced Camp and a psychology internship last summer while also working, teaching and coaching, among other activities. Graduating cum laude with a degree in psychology and a minor in German, she is a commissioned second lieutenant in Field Artillery (Active duty) now bound for BOLC in Fort Sill, Oklahoma.
On Saturday, May 9, Babich Jr., Boardley and Dunstone were three of seven Stetson Class of 2020 students who advanced from cadets to new officers, receiving commissions as second lieutenants in the U.S. Army during Stetson’s modified Army ROTC Commissioning Ceremony. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the traditional group event was separated into shorter individual ceremonies and moved from Lee Chapel on campus to nearby Chess Park in downtown DeLand. Families were present to pin on the rank and do a first salute.
Also as a sign of the times, Ret. LTC Oakland McCulloch, recruiting operations officer for the Eagle Battalion Army ROTC, who would normally lead the proceedings, wasn’t present — the result of family-related social distancing. LTC Rob Moyer, commander of the Army ROTC Eagle Battalion at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, had the honors. The Eagle Battalion consists of Stetson, Embry-Riddle (host school), Bethune-Cookman University and Daytona State College. The Eagle Battalion is among nation’s largest Army ROTC units.
On this day, the four other cadets from Stetson who became officers (in alphabetical order): Juan O’Neal, Gabriel Overmyer, Nicolas Theriault and Erica Thompson.
O’Neal joined Army ROTC as a first-year student and also played on the football team for three years, proving to be a committed cadet, athlete, teammate and student. The son of a medical technologist and retired detective who is now a sheriff’s deputy, O’Neal not only became a leader on campus, but helped to develop the same qualities in others. Further, he became involved in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, becoming chapter president as a sophomore.
Graduating with a degree in business administration, O’Neal was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Infantry (active duty). He will attend his BOLC at Fort Benning, Georgia.
During high school, Gabriel Overmyer participated in JROTC for four years while also excelling as an athlete. He has a member for the varsity football team each of those years, becoming team captain, and he was among Florida’s top powerlifters.
Overmyer comes from a military family, with his father serving as an Army Reserve captain and a line of family members leading back to the Revolutionary War. Overmyer got involved with Army ROTC in his first year at Stetson. Also, he was an active student on campus, ultimately taking an executive role with the dive club, Hatters Down Under, and being part of the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity.
He now graduates with a degree in political science, with minors in history and communication and media studies. He has been commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Signal Corps and will attend BOLC at Fort Gordan, Georgia.
Theriault arrived at Stetson as a Florida state champion in cross country and immediately became a member of the Hatters cross country team. However, he also was the recipient of a three-year Army ROTC national scholarship, and the duty to serve took precedent. His dad, grandfather and great-grandfather each had served in the military.
As a senior, Theriault was the company commander for all of Stetson (Charlie Company), where he created and led training for the underclassmen, as well as provided guidance and input to the Eagle Battalion. He graduates with a degree in chemistry and is commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Chemical Corps. He will attend BOLC at Fort Leonard wood, Missouri.
Thompson was born in Germany to a military family, where her father is a retired Army sergeant first class. She entered high school in Washington state and finished in Jacksonville, Florida.
Thompson arrived at Stetson with a 3.5-year national Army ROTC scholarship. In addition, she became actively involved in a mental-health awareness organization, “To Write Love on Her Arms,” graduating as vice president. She was a Young Life Capernaum leader in west Volusia County for children and teens with special needs. Also, she is a young alumna of Omicron Delta Kappa, a leadership fraternity, and was a member of Green, White, & YOU, an organization on campus that aids students in their transition to Stetson alumni.
Graduating with a degree in sociology, with a minor in military science and a concentration in pre-law, Thompson has become a second lieutenant Ordnance officer (active duty) and will attend BOLC at Fort Lee, Virginia.
As the person largely responsible for attracting the new officers to Stetson, McCulloch was particularly proud. In the days before the commissioning, he noted the closeness of the group.
“They were a very tightknit group, maybe tighter than many of the other groups since I’ve been here. I’m not sure why that was the case, but they certainly were,” said McCulloch, who last year was named national Recruiter of the Year by the U.S. Army Cadet Command.
McCulloch also pointed to their perseverance, believing the challenges of completing their final semester amid the unprecedented pandemic will serve them well in the future.
“They certainly have learned how to adapt and overcome, and I think that’s a good thing,” he said. “… I think they’ll do just fine. I’m really proud of them. All seven of them are very strong, and I think they’ll make good lieutenants.”
New Second Lieutenants
James Babich Jr.
- Key Largo, Florida
- Pinning: James Babich Sr.
- Assignment: Ordnance Corps (Active Duty)
- Health Sciences
- Windermere, Florida
- Pinning: Andrew and Alexandra Boardley
- Assignment: Medical Service Corp (Army Reserve)
- Sarasota, Florida
- Pinning: Ute Dunstone and John Dunstone
- Assignment: Field Artillery (Active Duty)
- Political Science
- Bradenton, Florida
- Pinning: Kathy and Victoria Overmyer
- Assignment: Signal Corps (Active Duty)
- Business Administration
- Harris County, Georgia
- Pinning: Ron and Leisa O’Neal
- Assignment: Infantry (Active Duty)
- Ormond Beach, Florida
- Pinning: Steven and Julie Theriault
- Assignment: Chemical Core (Active Duty)
- Sociology and Pre-Law
- Jacksonville, Florida
- Pinning: Eric and Monica Thompson
- Assignment: Ordnance (Active Duty)