First-year cadets only have one week of preparation for their first parade.
Think about that when you watch the 380 members of the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets’ Class of 2020 march across the Drillfield at 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 20, for the New Cadet Week Parade.
“We take these fresh-out-of-high-school cadets and in a week our cadre are able to teach them everything they need to know — how to march, how to properly wear a uniform, and how to have the discipline to be absolutely still when in formation, despite the sometimes uncomfortable temperature,” said Tiffany Borden of Exton, Pennsylvania, the regimental executive officer, the second-highest position a cadet can achieve in the corps.
“In other military organizations, they have the whole summer to learn, and we barely have seven days. To me, that’s the most astounding part,” said Borden, a senior majoring in human nutrition, foods, and exercise in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences with a minor in leadership studies from the corps’ Rice Center for Leader Development.
Her goal is to become a dietitian in the U.S. Army, providing nutrition education to soldiers and helping heal those injured or dealing with weight-related health issues.
New cadets arrived on campus Saturday, Aug. 13, and began working with the training cadre, upper-class cadets specifically chosen for their roles. Each cadre member “has shown a dedication to training the younger cadets and a commitment to the corps’ continued betterment, which is a key element,” Borden said.
As the regimental executive officer, Borden spent a week with the cadre to plan the logistics of New Cadet Week and to ensure a positive teaching atmosphere for the first-year cadets. She oversees the execution of that plan this week and then will lead the parade.
She said she remembers her own New Cadet Week parade vividly because she and her classmates had progressed in their training and gone from strangers to “new cadets,” and that the cadre staff took pride in their accomplishments.
She and this semester’s regimental commander, Mike Schoka of Fairfax, Virginia, a senior majoring in mathematics in the College of Science with a minor in leadership studies from the Rice Center for Leader Development, were “buds” in the same company as freshmen and marched together in that parade, Borden said.
Three years later, they will do it again but with much different roles.
“It is going to be an intangible experience for the two of us to co-lead this incoming class of freshmen, as we can relate to how close they are going to become with their fellow buds,” she said.
The parade is a long-standing tradition that began with 132 cadets in October 1872, when all students were cadets and Virginia Tech was known as the Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College, said Maj. Gen. Randal Fullhart, commandant of cadets.
During the parade, the Highty-Tighties, the regimental band, will play. Skipper, the Corps of Cadets cannon, will be fired when the cadets first enter the Drillfield, at the first note of the national anthem, and the first note of "Tech Triumph."