Cadet Brian Kehs, a senior from Haddon Township, New Jersey, has always been called to a life of service.

Through the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets and the Army ROTC, he has honed his natural leadership abilities and figured out what he wants from his future. On May 12, he will earn his degree in microbiology from the College of Science with a minor in leadership studies from the corps’ Rice Center for Leader Development and commission as an armor officer in the U.S. Army.

Along the way, he’s played the tuba for the Highty-Tighties, the corps’ regimental band, and met the woman he’s going to marry in a few weeks, Alexis Slocum, a senior from Blacksburg, Virginia, who’s majoring in animal and poultry sciences in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and has been accepted to the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine.

“The corps has done more for me than I would ever have imagined,” said Kehs, who has spent this semester serving as regimental commander, the highest position a cadet can hold and responsible for overseeing more than 1,000 cadets.

The recipient of a four-year Army ROTC scholarship and a corps’ Emerging Leader Scholarship, Kehs traveled halfway across the globe last summer, where he experienced new cultures.

He attended the Army’s Cadet Summer Training Advanced Camp at Fort Knox, Kentucky. The U.S. Army's largest training exercise, Advanced Camp is the U.S. Army Cadet Command's capstone training event.

After that, he moved to the Army’s Cadet Troop Leader Training, in which cadets serve in lieutenant-level leadership positions in active-duty units. He went to Italy, where the 173rd Airborne Brigade is forward-deployed. There, he had the rare opportunity to participate in a 19-country training exercise in Eastern Europe. He started in Hungary, parachuted into Bulgaria, and then moved on to Romania.

Kehs said he will leave Virginia Tech with this key lesson: Great leaders don’t try to be the best at everything. They use the individual talents of the people on their teams, and they try to learn from their teams.

“I feel that sometimes rank gets confused with superiority,” Kehs said. "Throughout my time here, I have learned that I am not the best at everything. I make mistakes, I fail, and I learn from it. The Corps of Cadets has allowed me to do this, and it has allowed me to grow.”

Among his recognitions this year, Kehs received an Aspire! Award for practicing civility, as part of Virginia Tech Student Affairs’ recognition of students who embody the university’s Aspirations for Student Learning. He also is an Aspirations Fellow, a group of students who embody the aspirations’ mission of service and compassion to Virginia Tech.

He also earned the Cincinnatus Award, which honors the cadet who carries the spirit of his or her military service into their community by the contribution of their time and talents, during the corps’ Military Awards Ceremony on April 22.

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