LEXINGTON, Va. (AP) — The Virginia Military Institute is getting its first female commander of the Corps of Cadets.
Cadet Kasey Meredith took on the role at a change of command parade on Friday. She is the first female regimental commander in VMI’s 182-year history.
The rising senior will be the military commander of the corps, responsible to the commandant of cadets for the training, appearance, discipline, health, welfare and morale of about 1,700 cadets.
Meredith told The Roanoke Times that being the first woman in the role is “amazing,” but she didn’t apply because she would be the first. Instead, she thought she could contribute a lot to the role and that she would find it fulfilling.
Meredith is from Johnstown, Pennsylvania, and plans to join the Marine Corps. But her mother, who was in the Navy, encouraged her to go to college first. She is majoring in international studies with a minor in Spanish and has has held numerous leadership positions at VMI, mostly recently 1st Battalion sergeant major.
“I shot for every opportunity that I had,” Meredith said. “It’s amazing to see the way I’ve grown here.”
VMI, founded as an all-male military college, was the nation’s last state-supported college to become coeducational. The first women enrolled in 1997 after a legal battle that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
On Friday, the college honored the 592 cadets and alumni who have been killed in action with a parade. Until this year, the annual parade only honored the cadets who died fighting for the Confederacy during the Civil War’s Battle of New Market. The change comes amid a state-ordered investigation into racism on the campus.