Three Wellesley ROTC Cadets, 2017 Graduates, Will March to a Military Beat

June 1, 2017
Wellesley graduates Anna Page, Hailey Webster, and Caroline Bechtel were promoted from ROTC cadets to second lieutenants in the army

Three 2017 Wellesley College graduates wore creased trousers, uniform blazers with polished brass buttons, and confident smiles. Each raised her right hand and swore an age-old oath, marking her transition from cadet to officer in the U.S. Army, where she will seek to have an impact on the world.

The commissioning ceremony inside the Alumnae Hall ballroom capped their four years in the Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC). With gold bars newly pinned on their shoulders, they were promoted from cadets to second lieutenants, a first step in advancing toward military careers and new life challenges.

When asked what motivated her to join ROTC and complete her training, 2nd Lt. Anna Page ’17, of Mount Clemens, Mich., who majored in history and economics, said she is led by her sense of faith and duty, which deepened during her four years at Wellesley.

“I learned so much about people and how faith can lead people to do important things in many places like the Army,” she said after the ceremony. “With me it’s faith and mission. The Army is involved in so many places in the world. I can pursue a mission of achieving a peaceful world. My faith has placed this on my heart, and I feel inwardly that this is the right path for me.”

Page will attend Duke Divinity School to pursue a master’s of divinity degree, after which she expects to be ordained as an Episcopal priest and serve in the Army as a Protestant chaplain.

2nd Lt. Caroline Bechtel ’17, of Indianapolis, a political science and Middle Eastern studies major, will be stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C., as an intelligence officer after completing the Military Intelligence Basic Officer Leaders Course in Fort Huachuca, Ariz.

“This is where I thought I could serve the Army and the United States the best,” she said. “My skills as an effective communicator who can analyze and synthesize ideas are what led me to this. I also look forward to sharpening my leadership skills. This is a good fit for me.”

Military intelligence was also a good fit for 2nd Lt. Hailey Webster ’17, of Daytona Beach, Fla. Like Bechtel, she majored in political science and Middle Eastern studies. “My education here at Wellesley opened my mind to international relations and how the United States can interact diplomatically, particularly in the Middle East,” she said. “Plus, I want to use what I’ve learned to serve effectively.”

In her remarks at the ceremony, retired Army Brig. Gen. Margaret W. Burcham said the women will be called upon to be leaders in their new roles. “Leadership is a gift, not a privilege,” she said. “Up until now you focused mainly on developing yourself. This ceremony is affirmation that you have been successful. In the military, you will be responsible for developing and training people.”

Carol Bate, Wellesley’s interim dean of students, also spoke to the women about leadership. “Commissioning as an officer places upon you a great responsibility to lead with honor,” she said. “Our best leaders understand that leadership is not what they can do, but about how to bring out the best in others.”

Though it was a serious ceremony, military in tone, it had a touch of family. Will and David Page pinned the gold bars on their older sister. Becky Bechtel did the same for her daughter, and Army Capt. Andrew Webster administered the oath of commission to his sister.