Saint Mary’s senior Cassandra Jerkovic was named Wing Commander of the Air Force ROTC Detachment 225, marking the first time in the College’s history that a student was given this honor. The award signifies that Jerkovic has reached the highest cadet rank possible, and her new responsibilities will include taking charge of the ROTC members from Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s, Holy Cross College, Bethel College, Indiana University South Bend, Trine, and Valpariaso. She was chosen for this position during the last week of the fall semester after submitting her application and rÃ©sumÃ© to the cadre. Jerkovic said her next task was to create the Master Plan for the spring semester, which dictates the activities that the wing performs weekly. “I put together the Master Plan that correlates with what the Air Force headquarters wants,” Jerkovic said. “It is like running an organization, and I am grateful for the help of my Wing Staff.” Jerkovic also is in charge of overseeing all the objectives assigned to the cadets, and reports this information in weekly meetings with the cadre. “Coordinating is difficult, but with the diversity I have in my Wing Staff, objectives are accomplished smoothly,” Jerkovic said. Jerkovic said she will be able to commission as 2nd lieutenant upon graduation, continuing with the United States Air Force as an acquisitions manager at Maxwell-Gunter AFB in Alabama. “I feel that my position as Wing Commander is going to help me with my career in the Air Force, because it is teaching me how to lead and still follow,” Jerkovic said. Jerkovic is the only senior from Saint Mary’s who has remained with the Air Force ROTC program through her four years. Within the program, she also participated on the Honor Guard Team, Drill Team, and Arnold Air Society. She said she hopes the award will set a precedent for future members of the community in ROTC and beyond. “I hope that this will be empowering to not only other women entering Saint Mary’s, but to anyone who wants to accomplish his or her dreams,” Jerkovic said. “I want to reach my potential because I have been blessed with so much.” Saint Mary’s sophomore Lexi Pearl, a member of the detachment, said Jerkovic is a well-respected leader in the program. “She is making sure we are all prepared, and she is doing a great job this spring,” Pearl said. “Everyone listens to her and respects her, and I know the underclassmen really look up to her as our leader.”
In the afterglow of Clemson’s national championship victory Monday, the Associated Press released its final rankings for the 2016-17 college football season. The list placed USC as the No. 3 team, marking the program’s first return to the top five since 2008. The distinction, however early, is a final mark of the massive turnaround led by head coach Clay Helton. The AP ranked USC only beneath Clemson and Alabama, and ahead of Washington, Oklahoma and Ohio State.This year’s team entered the season ranked No. 20 before taking a brutal 52-6 beating at the hands of Alabama to open the season in Arlington. The defeat dropped the Trojans out of the rankings, and subsequent losses to Stanford and Utah took the team even lower as they fell to a 1-3 record.But then the Trojans started winning. After righting their record to above .500, a mid-season 26-13 stunner over No. 4 Washington took the team to No. 15 and a rivalry win over Notre Dame lifted them into the top ten. USC rounded out the season ranked No. 9 when they took down No. 5 Penn State in a thrilling Rose Bowl finale.The top-three ranking comes as a continuation of this turnaround, which began with the decision to start redshirt freshman quarterback Sam Darnold. The next step lies in which recruits sign with the Trojans on Feb. 1 and how the Trojans can continue to build.