Leslie is currently serving on active duty with Fort Benning's 75th Ranger Regiment
By LARRY GIERER
Columbus State University graduate student Ricky W. Leslie says he didn't set a goal to be named the top Army ROTC cadet in the nation, but still sets "very high expectations for myself."
Leslie was selected for the honor by the U.S. Army Cadet Command from among 5,478 cadets.
Cadets were judged on academics, leadership and physical fitness.
Leslie is currently on active duty as a staff sergeant. As a member of the 75th Ranger Regiment based at Fort Benning, he has been deployed four times to Afghanistan and once to Yemen.
He is participating in the Army's Green to Gold Program that reroutes select non-commissioned officers into the commissioned officer career path. He expects to graduate with a master of public administration degree in May 2014.
He said he is looking forward to being an Army officer.
"I want the opportunity to think and plan and watch as it all plays out," he said.
He said he enjoys the military lifestyle and that it was his wife of six years, Grecia, also an ROTC cadet at CSU, who pushed him to get into the Green to Gold program.
"My wife helped me get to the point where I wanted more responsibility and the ability to influence others," he said.
One of five brothers, he does not come from a military background but said his wife's father is a colonel in the Paraguayan army.
The Arkansas native gives his parents much credit for his suc
"My parents instilled and enforced the value of hard work and sacrifice my entire life," he said.
Leslie is pleased with the instruction he has received at CSU, calling it "a good environment."
According to a school news release, Leslie already has a bachelor's degree in business administration and a master's degree in operations management from other universities.
In that release, Lt. Col. Michael Feret, a professor of military science and CSU's ROTC commander, said of his winning cadet, "Cadet Leslie is a tremendous asset to have at Cougar Battalion. He brings a wealth of experience and is always willing to share to better develop his peers and subordinate cadets."
The other cadets in the top 10 are Tyler Smotherman from the University of Idaho; Claire Yakabe from the University of Hawaii-Manoa; Matthew Mischo from the Colorado School of Mines; Felix Lopezalmeyda from the University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez; Lewis Dunaway from The Citadel; Alexander Coslow from Colorado State University; Kevin Filip from Loyola University; Amalia Osborne from North Carolina State University; and Elizabeth Bradt from Eastern Michigan University.