Last Updated: January 19th, 2023By

Some Cadets in the Reserve Officer Training Corps plan to stay with the Army for a few years before moving onto civilian careers.

Other Cadets want to stay in the Army for a couple decades, which is the case for Cadet Madeline Wickel with the 4th Regiment at Cadet Summer Training. 

U.S. Army Cadet Madeline Wickel throws a grenade during hand grenade training at Fort Knox, Ky., June 23, 2022. The training, which is part of Cadet Summer Training, taught Cadets the proper techniques for throwing hand grenades in a field environment. | Erinn Finley, CST Public Affairs Office.

Wickel, from Lehigh University, said her goal is to stay in the Army for 20 years and afterwards work as a Department of the Army civilian. 

“I really enjoy the military,” Wickel said. “Every step of the way since before freshman year applying for this scholarship and even now, the military has provided me so many different benefits, opportunities and experiences that I don’t think you can get really anywhere else.” 

But Wickel’s interest in the Army started well before her freshman year of college. 

“I’ve wanted to join the military since I was seven,” Wickel said. “Ever since I was a kid. I was always an athlete, always liked to be outside. And so just that outside aspect and just leadership and the characteristics, and the Army values, I hold them dear to my heart. 

Wickel said she wanted to join the Army and get an education so the ROTC program was the best of both worlds for her. She said she did a scholarship interview at the Steel Battalion ROTC program with Lehigh and decided that was the program for her. 

“I instantly fell in love,” Wickel said. “I knew I wanted to be there. It was a great program, great people. Actually some of the best role models I’ve had were the seniors I met my freshman year.” 

Wickel said CST is not quite what she expected, but she is enjoying it. She said she appreciates the opportunity to meet new people at CST.

“The people that I’ve met have been absolutely amazing,” Wickel said. “It’s the people that make the moment special and make the memories last.” 

Wickel said she has even met a couple people at CST that she attended air assault training with last summer. 

A U.S. Army Cadet aims a hand grenade towards a training target at Fort Knox, Ky., June 23, 2022. Cadets practiced the proper way to handle and throw a grenade while out in the field. | Erinn Finley, CST Public Affairs Office.

Wickel attended air assault training at West Point, which she said was some of the hardest training she had done prior to CST.

Wickel said air assault training taught her that she could do more than she realized. 

“Physically your body can keep going, it’s the mental toughness that’s going to take you to the very end,” Wickel said. 

Wickel said here at CST the camaraderie among her company makes the training a lot better for the group. 

“Every single time that we’re getting down, we’ve got our mantra of like, we’re going to crush every single day, we’re going to crush it,” Wickel said. 

Wickel also said she likes how deliberate the training is at CST. 

“One thing, especially with the training is that there’s always a purpose,” Wickel said. “There’s a purpose, there’s a drive, there’s a direction for it. It’s just making us become better leaders for the future.” 

Today, 4th Regiment was working on hand grenade training. 

A U.S. Army Cadet prepares to throw a hand grenade during a training event at Fort Knox, Ky., June 23, 2022. The training, which is part of Cadet Summer Training, teaches Cadets the proper way to throw a grenade in the field. | Erinn Finley, CST Public Affairs Office.

“We got to do the practice grenades, which I think are always awesome because they kind of simulate what a real hand grenade is,” Wickel said. 

Wickel said the training went well, and was a good morale booster for their Company.