VPI Battalion and Officer Pathways
By Cadet Maddy Djuric
The Citizen-Leader track prepares cadets for a life of service. After graduation, they can be found working at the forefront of the defense industry with companies like Boeing and Northrop Grumman, building communities as engineers and doctors, and protecting their homes with local police departments and three-letter agencies.
Other VPI battalion alumni follow one of several alternate commissioning pathways into the military. Four recent Citizen-Leader Track graduates are taking four different routes into the armed forces.
Baylor Lin – PLC
The Platoon Leaders Course is designed to train candidates to successfully complete the rigors of U.S. Marine Corps Officer Candidate School. Baylor Lin first heard of the Platoon Leaders Course (PLC) after receiving a text from Capt. Thad Guerrero, the recruiting officer at Officer Selection Team Roanoke.
Lin attended OCS in two six-week increments in the summers after his sophomore and junior years. His time as a cadet made OCS much easier. “I already knew a bunch of the stuff I had to do,” Lin said. His experiences in PLC and the Citizen-Leader Track taught him how to be more organized and learn from his mistakes. Serving as the PLC platoon commander and Kilo Battery executive officer allowed Lin to build his leadership skills before putting them into practice as a Marine.
After graduation from Virginia Tech, Lin was commissioned into the Marine Corps and will report to The Basic School. He hopes to serve as a Ground Intelligence Officer.
Claire Seibel – Navy OCS
Claire Seibel’s decision to pursue a commission through the Navy’s Officer Candidate School was inspired by the example of her grandparents, who both served in the Navy during Vietnam. She also wanted to serve in the intelligence community, and the Navy made that dream achievable.
The Citizen-Leader Track was where Seibel first heard of the possible paths to become an intelligence officer. She was drawn to the chance “to learn every day and to think critically and be creative,” she said. Opportunities through the Citizen-Leader Track taught her to seek proficiency in her tasks and, as she put it, “work through the growing pains.” She also learned resilience and when to take risks. These lessons and countless others learned as a member of VPI Battalion and the Corps have given Seibel skills she can take with her to OCS and, eventually, to the fleet.
The Spring 2023 regimental commander, Seibel graduated in May and will report to Officer Candidate School in July. Upon receiving a commission as an intelligence officer, she hopes to work with the SEALs.
Payton Hancock – Coast Guard AUP
Payton Hancock has always dreamed of following in her father’s footsteps and flying helicopters for the U.S. Coast Guard. The Citizen-Leader Track allowed her to work toward that goal through the Coast Guard Auxiliary University Program (AUP). The AUP supplements the Coast Guard Academy as a source of commissioned officers. It gives members the chance to do summer internships with sea or air stations, gaining real-world experience.
Hancock was drawn to the Coast Guard because of her family history and the opportunity to apply job skills in life-saving situations every day. Through the Citizen-Leader Track, she learned time management and communication skills, and to anticipate challenges. Upon commissioning this summer, Hancock will take those critical skills to Direct Commission Selected School (DCSS), a training pipeline for Coast Guard officers who have completed at least two years at a senior military college. After graduating DCSS, she will head to her first duty station in New Orleans and apply to flight school.
Pierce Carver - NUPOC
A mechanical engineering major with a Boeing internship already under his belt, Pierce Carver is pursuing a commission through the Navy’s Nuclear Propulsion Officer Candidate Program (NUPOC). NUPOC trains officers specifically to work on nuclear systems, whether on submarines or aircraft carriers.
The process to get into the program is challenging. “It was such a unique experience,” Carver said. Applying to NUPOC required him to complete phone interviews and then travel to Washington, D.C., for in-person technical interviews focusing on physics and calculus concepts. After completing a final interview with a four-star admiral, Carver was accepted into NUPOC.
The Citizen-Leader Track taught Carver how to communicate effectively with people from diverse backgrounds. The professional environment of VPI Battalion gave him confidence during his NUPOC selection interviews and the chance to expand his professional skillset.
After graduating from Virginia Tech in 2024, Carver will report to Navy OCS. He will then attend nuclear power and propulsion schools before serving on an aircraft carrier.
Despite the differences in the roads taken, each of these cadets share the values of discipline, character, and servant leadership instilled by the military environment of the Corps. Their time in the Citizen-Leader Track gave them the tools critical for service in the military and civilian sector.