University of Idaho ROTC Cadet Named One of Nation’s Finest
Senior Tyler Smotherman ranked No. 2
By Micki Panttaja
by U.S. Army Cadet Command
It’s tough to catch University of Idaho’s Tyler Smotherman off guard. The senior and ROTC cadet is so connected that he usually has a pretty good idea of what’s on the horizon. However, when he found out he’d been named the No. 2 Army ROTC cadet in the U.S., he admits he was blindsided. In a good way.
"I received a congratulatory text from a fellow Army cadet at The Citadel, who I’d met in my platoon at Leadership Development and Assessment Course, or LDAC, over the summer. He told me he saw my name listed in an article on the Army's website. I looked it up myself and then started getting calls and emails from several people congratulating me.”
The U.S. Army Cadet Command annually ranks all Army ROTC seniors across the nation in an “Order of Merit List.” The top 20 percent earn the designation of Distinguished Military Graduate. Students are rated on their cumulative GPA, physical fitness, and leadership performance during college AROTC training and during the LDAC. Smotherman was ranked second out of 5,478 cadets nationwide.
It’s not the first time he has risen to the top of the country’s best and brightest. As high school senior he received an appointment to U.S. Military Academy at WestPoint, which he ultimately turned down to attend the University of Idaho.
“The UI allowed me to have a more well-rounded schedule and life outside the military,” says Smotherman, who enjoyed extracurricular activities and studied abroad. “Idaho was the right combination of affordability and small size, while still being able to provide all the classes and opportunities for advancement I was looking for.”
With a 4.0 GPA and two majors, one in political science and the other in international studies, and double minors in Spanish and military science, he says his decision has been a good one.
“For me, majoring in political science was a no-brainer. I’ve always had a strong interest in politics, government, and the powerful influence for good or ill that they can have in our everyday lives,” says Smotherman. “I was drawn to the international studies major because of its unique interdisciplinary character and many class options, my background in Spanish, and my interest in a future career with an international component.”
As a cadet he could pursue his fascination with politics.
“As a part-time Army National Guard soldier, although still somewhat limited, I will be much more free to be involved in the political process, up to running for and holding elected office. That could be in five years or in 20, but I certainly would love the opportunity to represent my fellow citizens. I’m very passionate about civil liberties and the proper roles and responsibilities of government. Whether with arms against a foreign enemy, or with words against a domestic opponent, I hope to defend the Constitution and founding principles of the United States as both a soldier and involved citizen.”
After graduation, Smotherman plans to continue his education by seeking either a law degree or master’s degree and he will continue his involvement in community leadership. In the meantime, he’s appreciative for the opportunities and recognition he has received.
“I'm grateful to the Army for recognizing my accomplishments in this way and I pray that I will live up to this honor through the quality and fidelity of my future service to the Nation".