LEXINGTON, Va. – Building a new legacy, freshman freshmen completed their summer transition exams at the Virginia Military Institute on Friday, and this year is a milestone year for female cadets.
Women have been training alongside men at VMI for 25 years.
“It’s kind of cool because I can still be a part of that era and be the one who makes a difference,” said Hannah Buttner, a new VMI cadet.
Today nobody blinks when they see women like Hannah Buttner in the ranks. But in 1997, a school built on tradition began anew when it opened its doors to women for the first time.
10 news were there as they began a new era — Oregon’s Beth Hogan was the first woman to log on and make history at VMI This Morning.
Today, 25 years later, seeing women in posts is the norm. VMI officials said about 50 of the 400 incoming cadets this year are female.
And Buttner said she hopes that number will increase in the coming years.
Kira Brenaman and Adrianna Sanders are two of the incoming VMI cadets, and they said they look up to the first women who paved the way.
“I think it’s really interesting to just look back and see that everyone had their hair cut super short,” Brenaman said. “They had pixie cuts. Everyone was yelled at at the same time. The VMI Museum published a picture of one of the squads who was in the women’s freshman year. It’s really cool to see. It’s a real girl boss moment.”
Today, women don’t just participate, they lead.
Last year Cadet Kasey Meredith became the first female regiment commander, the highest position a cadet can attain.
“That’s really cool. The first one. I mean, she’s four years older than us, so that’s not too far off. Hopefully that becomes the norm around here,” Buttner said.
Buttner and her class are led by the first female ROTC commander at VMI Colonial Nichole Scott.
“It’s exciting to see change happen and if I can be a small part of it, any kind of inspiration to young men and women, especially women, I’m excited for the opportunity,” said Scott.
25 years later, the next generation of cadets are following paths carved by the women before them—paths that lead them on a clearer path to the leaders they want to become.
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