STEPHENVILLE — The Tarleton State University Texan Corps of Cadets marked its first female-to-female change of command Friday.
Cadet Zemoni Hopkins, Tarleton’s third-ever female cadet corps commander, succeeded Cadet Kaleigh Peacock in a ceremony at the O.A. Grant Amphitheater.
“I’m quite excited to take the torch from Cadet Peacock,” Hopkins said. “It’s great to see how female leadership has evolved to where we’re top of our class and trusted with taking care of the corps and all its cadets and everything that goes with it.”
“It is simply historic for the Tarleton Corps of Cadets to have the first change of command in which the incoming and outgoing corps commanders are female cadets,” added Col. Douglas Simon, Commandant of Cadets and Dean of the Leadership and Military College. “It is a moment of pride and celebration on the Corps of Cadets timeline.”
Established in 1917 when John Tarleton College became part of the Texas A&M System, the Texan Corps of Cadets went inactive in 1954 when male students were no longer required to be in the corps. In 1972 restrictions limiting full participation of women in ROTC were lifted, and the corps was re-instituted in 2016 as coed. Currently, 26% of the corps at Tarleton is female.
When outgoing Corps Commander Peacock entered the organization, there had been only one previous female corps commander, and few females were in upper leadership.
“It was definitely hard getting to where we’re at, but I’m glad we’re here. We’re setting the example for future females to know they have this opportunity,” she said. “This program overall has given me so many great opportunities and taught me so many things, not just about myself but about others. I’m happy I got to be a part of it and looking forward to where new leadership will take it.”
Peacock expressed confidence in Hopkins as her successor, advising her to “trust your gut, stick to your guns, and don’t be afraid to make those hard decisions — they will come around, but trust your leadership and the people you surround yourself with.”
Hopkins said she hopes that “with everything we have planned for next year, we can continue to grow the program into what we know it can be.”
Hopkins is a junior from College Station, Texas, majoring in wildlife, sustainability and ecosystem sciences with a concentration in zoo management. Part of the Tarleton Army ROTC’s Ranger Challenge team, she plans to commission into the Army Reserve after graduation in May 2024 and become a full-time reserve logistics officer.
Peacock, a senior psychology major from Denton, Texas, is double minoring in leadership studies and kinesiology. She is a Student Government Association Corps of Cadets representative and a member of the Psychology Club. On track to graduate in May, she anticipates being commissioned into the Army as an aviation officer and will attend the Basic Officer Leadership Course at Fort Rucker, Ala., a month after graduating, intent on flying a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter.
Among other cadets who assumed new leadership positions Friday are Cadet Michael Dorsey as cadet executive officer, Cadet Sean Ripley as cadet operations officer and Cadet Jake Broadway as cadet corps sergeant major.
The corps commander is selected each year through a leadership board that also chooses the cadets for staff positions and other leadership responsibilities at the company and platoon levels.
The corps commander is the senior ranking cadet officer, responsible for all cadets and their actions as well as corps events and activities. Accountable to the commandant, the corps commander supervises subordinate commanders, staff officers and the sergeant major and ensures that units comply with all corps and university policies while conducting proper risk assessments of organization activities.