COLUMBIA — MU graduations for winter semester are over, but on Sunday morning a select number of graduates were waiting to participate in one more ceremony.
The ROTC program at MU held commissioning ceremonies in which graduating members received officer status in their respective military branches.
"This is the culmination of four years of training and hard work," Master Sgt. Steven Rogers said. "They have aspired to this their whole college career, to become an officer."
Officers are leaders in the military and hold positions of authority. There are four ways for individuals to become officers: attend a military academy; attend Officer Candidate School after graduating from college or serving as an enlisted member; receive a direct commission after earning a professional degree; or participate in the ROTC program.
Two cadets with Army ROTC were commissioned and received the rank of second lieutenant in MU's Crowder Hall, and both will be serving in the Missouri National Guard.
"It's a huge relief to know I'm finally done. There have been some tough times between ROTC and school," 2nd Lt. Jamar Williams said. "I'm glad I made it through."
Williams plans to attend school at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., where he will train in military intelligence.
"I feel excited, exhilarated and very proud. He's a special young man. He's my baby," Williams'mother, Charmane Pearson, said. "He is just exceptional. He's on the Dean's List and a great example for his brothers, and I am just very proud."
Jamar Williams is continuing his family's involvement in the military, according to his dad, Sgt. Rodney Williams. Jamar Williams' grandfather served in World War II; his uncle served in Vietnam; and both of his parents served in the Air Force. His brother Jarvis Williams is in the Army, as well, and his father currently serves in the National Guard.
"It's an honor, watching him commission. His mother and I met in the military," Rodney Williams said. "There is a lot of family history there."
During the ceremony, Jamar Williams and 2nd Lt. Chris Shoemaker took the Oath of Commissioned Officers in which they pledged to defend the Constitution and the U.S.
After the oath, Lt. Col. Rob Boone said, "Kiss your moms; shake your dads' hands; and then thank them."
After the ceremony, Shoemaker reflected on his experience as part of MU's ROTC.
"It feels like I've been here my whole life but also like I just walked through the door yesterday," Shoemaker said. "It's pretty special here, and I'm gonna miss it, but all the hard work was worth it."
Shoemaker will attend school at Fort Leonard Wood and will be trained as an Army engineer.
"We are so proud. He has put in four-and-a-half years at MU," Shelley Shoemaker, his mother, said. "It has been a hard road, and he worked through it himself, working and paying for school. He worked his butt off."
Boone also expressed pride in the accomplishments of the the ROTC graduates.
"It is an honor and a privilege today to commission these two young men," Boone said. "They are going to be great officers, and you should be very proud."
MU's Air Force ROTC and Navy ROTC held ceremonies separately.
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