Class of 2023: Leadership experiences inspire Cadet Brooke Johnson to never stop learning
Name: Brooke Johnson
Major: Animal and poultry sciences
Hometown: Columbus, Ohio
Plans after graduation: Johnson plans to commission into the U.S. Army as a Medical Services Corps officer.
Favorite Hokie memory: “My favorite tradition has to be marching to football games. Leading my regimental staff and the rest of the regiment to Lane Stadium is something I will forever hold close to me. Alongside marching, my favorite memory is being a member of Espirit de Corps, cheering the corps and the team while on the football field. Being on Espirit has been a phenomenal experience and one I would never trade.”
The first to serve
Johnson didn’t know when she first joined the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets that she would someday plan to commission as an officer in the U.S. Army. No one in her family had served in the military before.
“I entered the Corps of Cadets as a member of the Citizen-Leader Track, unsure of my future goals and interest in the military. Now, I sit with a heavy leadership foundation given to me by the corps from the numerous leadership positions I was blessed to hold during my time as a cadet.”
Service and leadership were the resounding theme for Johnson’s time in the corps and she actively sought ways to challenge herself and mentor others. During her sophomore year, she was responsible for instructing a small team of first-year cadets as their fire team leader, charged with instilling in them a mastery of basic cadet duties.
She began her junior year as a cadre sergeant, returning before the start of classes to guide 36 first-year cadets through New Cadet Week. Later, at the semester change, Johnson was named the regimental sergeant major, the highest rank a junior in the corps can hold. As the regimental sergeant major, she led the first sergeants of 13 cadet companies, implemented guidance from the regimental commander, oversaw training at the cadet noncommissioned officer level, and enforced regulations standards.
All the way to the top
By the end of her junior year, Johnson knew she had more to offer the regiment. She interviewed for the fall 2022 position of regimental commander, the highest cadet rank and student leader of over 1,100 cadets. On April 30, 2022, she became the corps’ third Black female regimental commander.
It would be up to Johnson to establish her command philosophy for the fall semester and guide the corps through a grueling schedule in the fall, starting with two weeks of cadet training before classes started, corps activities at football games, reunions, cadet parades, Caldwell March, training events, and memorial ceremonies, to name a few. It was an undertaking she was well prepared for, in part thanks to the support from her closest friends: her fellow cadets from her first year in the corps.
“My first-year buds have stuck by me through it all, and I would never be able to describe how thankful I am for the support that they have given me.”
Now as Johnson sets her sights on a future in the U.S. Army, her biggest takeaway from her time in the Corps of Cadets is to keep moving forward and never stop learning.
“As I find myself close to graduating, I want to take as much knowledge with me as possible. I know I’m not done learning yet and I’m excited for the future.”