For the first time in the Virginia Military Institute’s 181-year history, a woman will hold the highest-ranking cadet position.
Kasey Meredith will lead the Corps of Cadets as regimental commander for the 2021-22 school year, VMI announced Tuesday.
“Ms. Meredith distinguished herself throughout the application and interview process,” said retired Army Maj. Gen. Cedric Wins, interim superintendent. “There’s little doubt that she is the right cadet for the position. She is a role model with a clear devotion to duty who will earn the trust and respect of the Corps.”
The regimental commander is the senior-ranking cadet and military commander of the Corps of Cadets, responsible for its training, discipline, appearance and morale. It is the highest-ranking position a cadet can earn.
Meredith, a third-year cadet from Johnstown, Pennsylvania, is majoring in international studies, minoring in Spanish and is a member of the Marine Corps ROTC program, according to a news release. She plans to commission as a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps upon graduating next year. She is also a member of VMI’s running and CrossFit clubs.
Wins said in the release that Meredith has “distinguished herself as a strong leader.”
She has held numerous leadership positions during her time at VMI and is currently 1st Battalion sergeant major, according to the release. She previously served as a color guard corporal and as a fire team leader in the Marine Corps ROTC detachment.
Cadets undergo a rigorous review process before being selected for leadership positions, including interviews with members of the commandant’s staff and the superintendent. “The entire scope of one’s cadetship is evaluated, from academic performance to personal interactions with staff on post,” according to the news release.
“The regimental commander plays an important role in the development of future leaders,” Wins said. “Ms. Meredith embodies the VMI values of honor, integrity, self-discipline, leadership and is well-suited to make a positive impact on the Corps of Cadets. I look forward to watching her take command.”
Founded in 1839 as an all-male military college, VMI was the last state-supported college in the nation to become coeducational. The first women enrolled in 1997, following a years-long legal battle that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
VMI debated turning private to keep its all-male status following the court’s 7-1 ruling in 1996. But the governing board of visitors ultimately voted 9 to 8 to admit women.
Approximately 13% of current VMI cadets are women, according to data published by VMI.
Meredith will assume her new role at a change of command ceremony in May. In the meantime, she and other cadets selected for leadership roles will participate in a leadership development program, according to the news release.