In ceremonies held March 21 at the Georgia State Capitol, two University of North Georgia (UNG) cadets were recognized by Gov. Nathan Deal and the General Assembly for being ranked in the top five Army ROTC cadets in the United States.
Cadet 1st Lt. Andrew Gomez of Cumming, Georgia, is ranked second in the nation and Cadet Lt. Col. Bryton Wenzel of Albany, Georgia, is ranked fifth.
Cadets are ranked on the national Order of Merit List (OML) by achieving superior grade point averages, strong performance in the Army physical fitness test, proving their worth as exceptional leaders in their college ROTC training, and their performance at Advanced Camp at Fort Knox, Kentucky. With more than 5,000 cadets from across the nation ranked on this year’s OML, it is extraordinary that two cadets from the same university are ranked among the top five nationally.
Gomez and Wenzel each received a governor’s commendation from Deal at the Georgia Capitol and resolutions were presented honoring each cadet in the state Senate and the House of Representatives. UNG President Bonita Jacobs and Col. Brent Cummings, professor of military science at UNG, also addressed each legislative body.
The recognition was held in conjunction with UNG Day at the Capitol, an annual event to showcase some of UNG’s recent achievements, innovative programs and points of pride with the Georgia legislature. University administrators, faculty and students met lawmakers, including Deal and House Speaker David Ralston, a UNG alumnus.
Ralston commended UNG for its role in preparing students to become leaders in business, military and civic realms across the state and around the world.
“We have a real treasure in UNG, and I’m proud of the way this school prepares leaders in all walks of life. Through these graduates and cadets like Andrew Gomez and Bryton Wenzel, UNG makes a positive impact across our state and throughout the world,” Ralston said. “As an alumnus, I’m proud to celebrate UNG Day at the Capitol and recognize these two outstanding cadets. I’m glad my colleagues in the General Assembly have the opportunity today to learn more about the important role UNG plays in the future of north Georgia.”
Sen. Butch Miller, a UNG alumnus who represents District 49 and is the highest-ranking senator in the General Assembly, was among legislators celebrating their alma mater at UNG Day.
“I often describe UNG as the foundation of my professional development and I am proud to call myself a UNG alumnus and celebrate two outstanding cadets,” Miller said. “It is my hope that students and alumni of the past, present, and future continue to learn what wonderful place the University of North Georgia is and will continue to be.”
Gomez, a three-year recipient of the Army ROTC Scholarship, is majoring in computer science and seeks to commission into the U.S. Army’s Cyber Corps; he is the son of Audrey and Albeiro Gomez.
“All the hard work of others who helped out to get me here has really paid off,” Gomez said. “Honestly, it’s just all the great leaders who are here who have developed others to be better leaders. One of the biggest things I love about the University of North Georgia is that everyone is just trying to help each other.”
A recipient of the state-funded UNG Georgia Military Scholarship, Wenzel is majoring in nursing and seeks to commission into the Corps of Engineers in the Georgia National Guard; he is the son of Tina and Jeff Coalson.
“I just reflect on all the hard work that I’ve done and I thank all of those other people who have helped me along the way,” Wenzel said.
Sen. Steve Gooch, who earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at UNG and represents District 51, introduced the cadets on the floor of the Senate. Gooch, along with Sens. Butch Miller, Bill Cowsert, Michael Williams, and John Wilkinson, co-sponsored Senate Resolution 818 and Senate Resolution 819 commending Gomez and Wenzel.
“It is my honor to be involved in recognizing two outstanding cadets and Georgia natives who exemplify leadership and service,” Gooch said. “UNG provided me the academic foundation to further my career in public service and my leadership role in the state Senate, so I know that the education and training Gomez and Wenzel have received at UNG has well-prepared them to be leaders in the U.S. Army and Georgia National Guard.”
Rep. Kevin Tanner, an alumnus who represents District 9, introduced the cadets on the floor of the House. Tanner, along with Reps. Lee Hawkins, Marc Morris and Todd Jones, co-sponsored House Resolution 1238 and House Resolution 1239 commending Gomez and Wenzel.
“UNG is the only university in the nation to have two cadets ranked among the top five in the country by U.S. Army Cadet Command, and we commend these two young men for serving as positive role models for future cadets and students across the state,” Tanner said. “Cadets Andrew Gomez and Bryton Wenzel are among the best in the country, and I thank them for their commitment to serve our state and the nation as members of the armed forces.”
This is the third time in four years that UNG cadets placed in the top 10 in the nation – Jonathan Strickland of Gainesville, Georgia, was the No. 1 cadet in 2014 and Eric Gleason of Marietta, Georgia, also a recipient of the UNG Georgia Military Scholarship, was ranked eighth in 2015.
As one of six senior military colleges in the nation, UNG is designated as The Military College of Georgia.