University of Virginia fourth-year student Adria Penatzer spent her summer at Fort Knox (Kentucky) and Fort Bragg (North Carolina) jumping out of airplanes, learning about military intelligence and being named a top cadet in the Army’s Leadership Development and Assessment Course.
Penatzer, 21, of Pittsburgh, a politics honors and Chinese double major, was named the top cadet in her regiment of nearly 500 cadets, placing her among 13 top cadets of 270 ROTC programs across the country. She received the Military Order of the World Wars Award, the Commanding General’s Coin and the Association of the United States Army Leadership Excellence Award during a July 10 graduation ceremony.
This fall, Penatzer will be the Cadet Commander for U.Va.’s Army ROTC program.
“Throughout her tenure at U.Va. ROTC, Adria has been a leader among leaders,” said Army Lt. Col. Mark Houston, who chairs the Department of Military Science and is commandant of the U.Va. Army ROTC program. “She remains highly active in academic and athletic/intramural circles and on Grounds. Adria is a shining example of our nation’s future leaders and one whom I would want leading my children.”
Penatzer said she is honored to be named a top cadet.
“I certainly did not have a goal to earn top cadet in the regiment,” she said. “I just wanted to perform as well as I could for the ROTC cadre at U.Va., who had worked so hard to prepare our class for LDAC, and I was fortunate enough to have a positive result.”
Penatzer, who plans a career in military intelligence, will be a Lawn resident this fall. She is a member of the Raven Society, was president of the Alexander Hamilton Society, rifle captain of the Virginia Rifle and Pistol Club and a member of the Catholic Student Ministry.
While originally attracted to U.Va. because of an interest in business, Penatzer shifted her course of study after some exploring.
“I felt that foreign affairs was a much more relevant topic to study for an Army ROTC cadet than business would have been,” she said. “As for Chinese, the Army places a high value on the study of critical languages, so I chose to study Chinese in the midst of talk over the ‘shift to the Pacific.’”
Penatzer understands the benefits she has received from U.Va. and the Army.
“After my training this summer, which started with LDAC and ended with Cadet Troop Leader Training at Fort Bragg, the most valuable thing I have learned is that the value you receive from any training is strongly correlated to how much effort you put into that training,” she said. “Another thing I have learned is that having a good attitude, no matter what the circumstances, is vital to being successful.”