Last year, senior ROTC cadet Joseph Oleski was one of only a few cadets to ride in an Army Blackhawk helicopter for a field training exercise. While he once considered being selected for this special experience the highlight of his time in ROTC, some recent news might just beat that thrilling ride.

Oleski, a geoenvironmental studies major, received word last month that he is ranked as the number 7 cadet in the nation by the United States Army Cadet Command.

According to Lt. Col. Michael Firmin, chair of Military Science at Shippensburg University, this ranking includes over 7,000 cadets and is based on a variety of criteria including academic achievement, physical fitness, ROTC leadership performance and extra-curricular activities.

Oleski, the only cadet from Pennsylvania to make the top ten, is surprised and honored to receive the prestigious recognition, but says it only encourages him to work harder.

“If anything, it means there are higher expectations for me to continue performing at my best and to not get caught up in the excitement,” said Oleski.

After graduating high school, a family friend encouraged Oleski to apply for an ROTC scholarship. It was the perfect way for him to combine is lifelong dream of serving in the military while getting a quality education his parents had always encouraged him to pursue. He was awarded the scholarship and decided on Ship and the Raider Battalion.

“I have never regretted this decision and am incredibly happy that I have followed this path,” explained Oleski.

“This is a true testament to his leadership acumen and professionalism as he gets ready to transition to his career as an officer in the United States Army,” said Firmin.

Oleksi is preparing for his final semester at Ship and will commission and graduate in May 2021. He’ll find out in the coming months what’s next for him in the Army, but hopes to become an engineer officer and attend airborne school. In the meantime, his hard work continues.

“I know I’m developing my leadership capabilities to best lead soldiers in the future,” state Oleski.