Four years ago when Melissa Roush enrolled at PSU, she knew she wanted to pursue a career as a military physician. But what she and ROTC leaders at PSU couldn’t foresee was that before she even finished her bachelor’s degree, she would end up one of the most highly awarded cadets in university history.
Roush, a native of Louisburg, Kan., received a number of awards at the ROTC Spring Banquet for both her academic success and physical aptitude. What places her above the rest are two top honors: the Legion of Valor Bronze Cross Award and the 2009 Pallas Athene Award.
The Bronze Cross is awarded to the top cadets in the nation, including Roush, who ranked 26th out of 4,703 cadets nationwide. Roush earned her top ranking last summer while spending a month at Fort Lewis, Wash., at the U.S. Army Cadet Command’s Leadership Development Camp. Her high grades, physical fitness tests and extracurricular involvement all factored into the ranking.
Pittsburg State ROTC Cpt. George Johnson said the honor is so rare, that the military prefers the award be presented by a Medal of Honor recipient. Because those are hard to find, Roush’s Bronze Cross was awarded by Col. Ron Seglie, a Pittsburg physician and the event’s keynote speaker.
“There are only about 200 still alive in the U.S. It’s easier to find generals than it is Medal of Honor recipients,” Johnson explained. “To our knowledge, this is the first time anyone from this department has ever received this award.”
Roush was also selected by the Women’s Army Corp Veterans Association to receive the Pallas Athene Award, which is given to only a handful of female cadets in the country each year.
Despite her success as a woman – at 22 years old, Roush oversaw more than 80 cadets as PSU’s Battalion Commander – she says it’s not about the awards. She decided to join ROTC after seeing her brother, Bradley Roush, flourish in the program four years ago (he is finishing a captain career course at Fort Leonard Wood before going into the special forces). Although they had no history of military in their family, she says it was a good fit from the beginning.
“As I got further into it, I became impassioned that I could give medical care to all these people giving their lives for their country,” she said. “I think the military has a lot of special people in it.”
When she graduated in May, Roush was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant. With a near-perfect GPA, she will begin medical school at the University of Kansas this fall. The Army has granted her an educational delay, which will put off her active duty requirements until after she finishes her three-year residency.
“I’m very honored by all of this. I always think, ‘Are you sure this is for me?’” she said with a laugh. “But I haven’t done any of this to get rewarded for it, I just push myself and if recognition comes, then that’s great.”