ROTC cadets receive promotions

Published 11:59 pm Tuesday, February 22, 2011

U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Selma) stands on stage with five members of Concordia College-Selma’s ROTC program who received promotions and awards Tuesday. Those cadets included Lawrence Gill, Lakeshia Beasley, LeBrille May, Ralph Coquemar and Marcus Gaston. -- Tim Reeves

Lawrence Gill has a special story to tell.

He has shed 40 pounds and a head filled with dreadlocks.

Gill did so because he wants a career in the military.

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A fit, neatly groomed soldier is what the military requires.

On Tuesday, cadet Lawrence Gill received a promotion to cadet Cpl. Lawrence Gill. He was one of five Concordia College Army ROTC cadets promoted.

Others promoted included: cadet Lekeshia Beasley to cadet staff sergeant; cadet LeBrille May to cadet sergeant; cadet Ralph Coquemar to cadet private first class and cadet Marcus Gaston to private first class.

“I worked hard. The biggest challenge was running,” Gill said after the ceremony. “But I did it.”

The ROTC goal is to run from the campus to the Edmund Pettus Bridge and back. Gill tried and failed. But he kept trying.

“I can run to the bridge,” he said.

Before the ceremony on campus, Gill’s mother, Felicia Gill, talked about how her son at one time was headed for the thug’s life. He had the dreads and the attitude. Now, he is a success story.

“He has really turned around,” she said.

Last August, Gill joined the Army ROTC program, but before he could receive his fatigues, he had to shave his dreadlocks and toss them away.

But he didn’t throw them away, according to Lt. Col. Nicolas Britto, assistant professor of military science. Instead, Gill zipped up the dreadlocks in a plastic bag and sent them to “Wigs for Kids,” a national organization that makes wigs for children who have lost hair from chemo therapy, radiation treatments, burns or other medical treatments.

The ceremony featured U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, who awarded the promotions to the cadets.

Also honored were Alabama State Trooper Ed Jones and Selma-Dallas County Chamber Of Commerce executive director Sheryl Smedley for their support in the community.