By Joe Garvey

Twenty-six Army, Navy and Marine Corps ROTC students from three universities (Old Dominion, Norfolk State and Regent) became officers at ODU's annual Spring Commissioning Ceremony.

New ensigns and second lieutenants swore to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic" on May 4 at Chartway Arena.

“The real fun starts now. But the games are over,” said Maj. Brandon Shah, commanding officer of ODU AROTC. “You represent your family, you represent your service, your school and the nation as you lead sons and daughters of America.”

Rear Adm. John Meier, commander of Naval Air Force Atlantic, congratulated the new officers and told them “the very nature of your willingness to serve speaks to your intrinsic motivation.”

“As a mission, preserving world peace is noble,” he added. “Thank you for that.”

Admiral speaking at podium
Rear Adm. John Meier, commander of Naval Air Force Atlantic, congratulated the new officers and told them “the very nature of your willingness to serve speaks to your intrinsic motivation.” Photo Chuck Thomas/ODU

But he noted that the United States faces growing threats and challenges.

“You enter the world at a very dangerous time,” he said.

The rapid pace of technological advances will change some aspects of warfare, Meier said, citing cyberattacks, hypersonic weapons, autonomous air vehicles, quantum computing and artificial intelligence. Increasing tensions between the U.S. and China, North Korea’s aggressive nuclear program, the war between Ukraine and Russia, and unrest in Sudan and Iran threaten world stability.

“We are on a razor’s edge in Europe where Russia could attack a NATO state, which could draw us into World War III,” he said, adding that hostilities around Taiwan or in the South China Sea could have the same effect.

To help meet these challenges, Meier told the new ensigns and second lieutenants that they would need to embrace change, push themselves and others to perfection, lead in a way that builds trust with the men and women who will serve with them and adopt an attitude of continuous learning.

Regarding the latter, he cited one of his favorite quotes. “Gen. Mattis said if you’ve not read hundreds of books, you’ll be functionally illiterate because your experience alone will not be sufficient to carry the day,” Meier said.

Though “by many standards it looks like we’re on a path to war,” Meier said he doesn’t believe war is inevitable.

“Our most noble mission is to preserve the peace,” he said. “And to that end I ask that we pray for peace while we prepare for war. That’s the surest guarantor of peace.”

Army ROTC was established at ODU in September 1969, and five years later the University fully recognized a military science curriculum academic credit. That milestone was followed in 2003 by the Faculty Senate’s approval of an academic minor in military leadership studies. The Naval ROTC Unit Hampton Roads was commissioned in 1982. It was the first unit to offer complete NROTC programs at three institutions – ODU, Norfolk State and Hampton. Regent University and Tidewater Community College were added later.

“For many years, the Hampton Roads Navy Reserve Officers’ Training Corps and ODU Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps have worked together to produce many distinguished brave officers, leaders and scholars who have served our nation in so many ways with distinction,” said Austin Agho, ODU’s provost and vice president for academic affairs. “This is truly a good example of the power of partnership.”

A total of 23 ODU students received commissions.

Fourteen were commissioned as second lieutenants in the U.S. Army:

  • Justin Allen, Suffolk, B.S.N. nursing, Nurse Corps
  • Abigail Donohue, Norfolk, B.S. exercise science, Medical Service Corps
  • Emily Imhof, Great Mills, Maryland, B.S. chemistry, Medical Service Corps
  • D’ante Lambright, Virginia Beach, M.P.A. public administration, Medical Service Corps
  • Ryan Myers, Virginia Beach, B.S. criminal justice, Infantry Corps
  • Kevin Rossiacosta, Havana, Cuba, B.S. cyber operations, Chemical Corps
  • Zaykees Curry, Fayetteville, North Carolina, B.S. criminal justice, Logistics Corps
  • Carli Glaze, Bald Knob, Arizona, B.S. exercise science, Medical Service Corps
  • Elizabeth Jackson, Hampton, B.S. cyber operations, Armor Corps
  • Thalia Lugo, Atlantic City, New Jersey, B.S. criminal justice, Army Reserve
  • John Perkins IV, Nokesville, B.A. history, Medical Service Corps
  • Marcus Sanger, Chesapeake, B.S. criminal justice, Infantry Corps
  • Cameron Stegura, Stuarts Draft, B.S. cyber operations, Infantry Corps
  • Connor Williams, Stafford, B.S. cyber operations, Signal Corps

Four were commissioned as ensigns in the U.S. Navy:

  • Jasmine Lamanna, San Antonio, Texas, B.S. psychology, surface warfare officer
  • David Routhier, Chesterfield, B.S. physics, submarine warfare officer
  • Kiara Moya-Prera, Richmond, B.S. civil engineering and technology, surface warfare officer
  • Kayden Starley, Cedar City, Utah, B.S. mechanical engineering, surface warfare officer

Five were commissioned as second lieutenants in the U.S. Marine Corps:

  • Jonathan Frazier, China Spring, Texas, B.A. leadership
  • Christopher Nessl, Litchfield, Illinois, B.S. leadership
  • Thomas Harlow, Cherry Point, North Carolina, B.S. computer science
  • Tadgh Owen, Swansboro, North Carolina, B.S. biology
  • Larry Tarver, Hampton, B.S. sports management

Other students who received their commissions:

Norfolk State University


  • Daniel Ervin, Norfolk, B.S. biology, naval aviator

Regent University


  • Perla DelaCruz, Bronx, New York, B.S. biophysical science, surface warfare officer

Marine Corps second lieutenant

  • Caleb Ricciardi, Fredericksburg, B.S. psychology

“Our goal was to put you in position to take the next step and lead the country,” said Capt. Brian Becker, commanding officer of NROTC Hampton Roads. “I’m confident we have done that.”