Class of 2021: Senior management major leads through ROTC

Class of 2021: Senior management major leads through ROTC

A lot has changed for senior Tommy McHugh over the last four years. He went from being a high school student unsure of his plans for the future to leading an ROTC Battalion, graduating with his bachelor’s degree and engaged to get married to his fiancé Mariah. 

Tommy McHugh
Tommy McHugh

“I decided I wanted to do ROTC my senior year of high school,” said McHugh. “Just going to college, getting a degree and then a job didn’t sound exciting to me. I had family who had been in the military, so I applied for the National ROTC scholarship.”

Excited he now had a plan, it derailed when he found he didn’t get the National ROTC Scholarship. Even with the setback, he knew that was the path he wanted to pursue, and Georgia College’s partnership with Georgia Military College (GMC) was a great fit for him.

“I started reaching out and talking to some of the cadre, which are the teachers in the ROTC program, and got involved my freshman year,” he said.  

After taking a military science course during his first year to see what the program was all about, he calls the summer after his freshman year “great season of his life.” That’s when he applied for and found out he got another ROTC scholarship, solidifying his future in the program. 

“At the same time I was coming to faith in Jesus and was making the commitment to do ROTC,” he said. “Everything in my life just lined up right that summer.”

Now McHugh serves as the Cadet Battalion Commander for the Old Capital Guard ROTC, the highest position within the program and has also earned distinguished graduate honors— putting him in top 20 percent of ROTC graduates in the country.

Through the program with GMC, McHugh takes courses and participates in physical training most mornings at 6 a.m. Among his many other duties, he also serves as the captain of the Ranger Challenge team. 

“Having PT most mornings, that's been a big thing for me. Just starting out my days that way helped develop discipline and character, as well as giving me opportunities to do things like attend airborne school two summers ago,” he said.

Soon after his May 2021 graduation, McHugh will go “active duty” in the U.S. Army. 

“I’ll go to Fort Benning in Columbus, Georgia, for the infantry basic officer leadership course, which is just about a six-month-long school where I basically learn how to do my job,” said McHugh. “Then hopefully after that I can go on to Ranger School and any other schools they'll send me to.”

I've grown a lot with the battalion commander position.
– Tommy McHugh

The management major has been able to put into practice through his ROTC leadership many of the principles he learned in his courses. 

“I've grown a lot with the battalion commander position. Learning to delegate and empower others has been really important,” he said, “because I realized I'm not going to be able to do everything all the time and I don't want to do everything.”

McHugh’s also used his time in college to lead in other ways as part of the Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity for two years holding the position of chaplain. Led by his faith, he’s also started several Christian groups at Georgia College and GMC. 

“At GMC, my friends and I started basically a church at GMC for the cadets, and that's been such an amazing thing to be a part of,” said McHugh. “Then this past semester, my fiancé and I started a weekly church service that we hold at our apartment.”

When he graduates in May, McHugh will be commissioned as a U.S. Army Second Lieutenant after successfully completing the three years of Advanced ROTC training. He credits the guidance through his faith in Christ, what he learned in his business classes and put into practice through his leadership experience with setting him up for the next step in his life.