Today@Sam Article

Military Appreciation Month: Bearkat Battalion

May 15, 2019
SHSU Media Contact: Hannah Haney

In recognition of Military Appreciation Month, Sam Houston State University celebrates those who have served and continue to serve our country. Today we are highlighting outstanding recent graduates of the SHSU Bearkat Battalion who commissioned as officers into the United States Army on May 10.

Caitlin Arrigali


Hometown: Pleasanton, CA

Major/Minor: Criminal Justice/Military Science and Forensic Anthropology

College Activities:

  • Alpha Delta Pi Sorority (Fall 15 – Present)
  • SHSU Army ROTC Bearkat Battalion (Fall 15 – Present)
  • Alpha Phi Sigma National Criminal Justice Honor Society (Spring 17 – Present)
  • Order of Omega Greek Honor Society (Spring 17 – Present)
  • Circle K International (Fall 17 – Spring 18)
  • SHSU History Club (Fall 15 – Present)
  • Student Assistant at the Office of Admissions (June 17 – Present)


Why did you choose to attend SHSU for your education?

Up until my junior year of high school I was very unsure of what I wanted to do or where I wanted to go for school. I knew that I was interested in law enforcement and wanted to pursue something within that field and I also knew that I wanted to return back to Texas the first opportunity I got. With both of these things in mind, I found SHSU and fell in love instantly. I went to the first Saturday@Sam I could and it was during that visit, that I was able to visualize my next four years.

What did you choose to join the military?

Joining the military is something that has always interested me. I have no family or close friends that have served, but there was something about serving that stuck out to me. I have viewed this opportunity as a way for me to really learn about myself and to grow as a person and a leader. In addition, I have found that it is an amazing way for me to develop others around me as well. My senior year of high school I was on track to enlist after graduation. However, after going through the MEPS process and taking my ASVAB I reflected a bit more on my future plans and decided that my education was my top priority at the moment and I didn’t want to delay it any further. It was because of this desire to finish my education that I found my way into the ROTC program at SHSU.

Feelings about commissioning into the military soon?

I think I am feeling almost every emotion possible right now. I am filled with nerves but an overwhelming amount of excitement as well. I am definitely nervous because I am not sure what to expect going to my first unit and into the actual Army for the first time. However, I really just can’t wait for this part of my life to get started and to begin the work I have been preparing myself for these past four years.

CA1.jpgSquare1What branch? Rank?

I will be commissioning as an Active Duty 2nd Lieutenant in the Army. I will be a Military Intelligence officer branch detail Chemical. With that, I will be a chemical officer for the first four years until I am promoted to Captain and then I will transition over to Military Intelligence.

Where will you be stationed? What will be your role?

I recently found out that my first duty station will be Ft. Bragg, North Carolina. Here I am assigned to the 1st Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade for the moment. It is still not exactly clear what I will be doing but to my knowledge I will be assigned as the unit’s chemical officer and fulfilling the needs that come with that position.

Feelings about transitioning from an academic setting into the military?

It is a little nerve-wracking to say the least. An academic setting is one that is very comfortable for me and something that I have excelled in. The military is a big unknown to me not having any prior service under my belt. It is something that, although a little intimidating, I am beyond ready for and can’t wait to experience and continue to grow from.

How has SHSU helped you prepare for this transition?

I believe that SHSU has allowed me to become the person that I am today. Whether it be the people I met these past four years or the many opportunities that have been provided to me, SHSU is a place that will have a lasting impact on me forever. Prior to my first year, I have to say that I was the furthest thing from who I am now. I was quiet and stayed to myself. In high school, I was not involved in a single organization and just went from work to school and back day after day. Being involved in all the organizations I am, changed that completely and taught me more than I can ever put into words. It has taught me to find balance and prioritize things in my life and I can say that with confidence SHSU has set me up for success going into this next chapter of my life.

Sammys75 copy1How long do you predict you will serve in the military?

At the moment my contract is for four years active duty service. However, I can see myself staying for at least one more contract after that and even possibly making it a long-term career.

What does “The measure of a Life is its Service” mean to you?

The University’s motto plays directly into the Army value of selfless service. It is not always about recognition and doing things for yourself. I realized early during my time at SHSU that the only way to continue to get closer to becoming the person who I wanted to be, would be to devote my time to the organizations that gave so much to me. It really is true when people say you only get out what you put in. By putting my effort into the ROTC program and my sorority I have been able to see the rewards indirectly. It is not always a certificate or a trophy. The most rewarding and eye-opening times have been seeing those around you be successful and better than you were at that same task. Setting others up for success and being a part of the behind the scenes efforts allows you to step back and see the bigger picture.

Emotions about winning The Sammy Award?

I honestly have not been able to process this completely. I am not the kind of person that likes to be at the center of attention or put on the spot. I would much rather watch from the sidelines and see a close friend or someone that I have helped be recognized before myself. I think that is why winning the Sammy was truly an amazing experience for me. It was nothing that I expected but really did mean so much. I love to be involved and I love to leave my mark everywhere I can, even with something small. I think by receiving The Sammy Award, I saw that those little marks mean a lot to others as well. 

In your opinion, what makes an effective leader?

I believe an effective leader is one that is able to gain trust from their subordinates and use that trust to work towards the best interest of the group and empower those under them. Although leadership roles are a great opportunity for self-development and growth, this is not and should not be the main focus. I believe that a lot more can be learned and gained through the facilitation of growth and development of those around you. You have to be humble, put emotions aside, and you have to get to know the people you are trying to lead.

Erick Rodas


Hometown: Houston, TX

Major: Political Science

College Activities: Vice President of the Collegiate Veterans Association and committed member of the Bearkat Battalion.

AC2 ER.jpgSquare1

Why did you choose to attend SHSU for your education?

The program that I’m in allows me to go from active duty Army to temporarily attend the university for two years, do the last two years of the ROTC curriculum and come back as a commissioned lieutenant. I was met with a tremendous amount of support from the people at SHSU. It may seem like a really big university, but it has a small town family feel.

Why did you choose to join the military?

I used the military as a platform to change the dynamic in my family. The highest level of education in my family was the second grade. I was the first born on US soil. I knew that if I wanted to do something different and elevate the platform for my family to move forward, I would have to do something drastic and that was the military.

What branch of the military and what rank?

I will be commissioning as a second lieutenant into the Adjutant General’s Corps. Essentially, I will be doing human resources for the military.

Where will you be stationed?

It is going to be a rough three years, but right now, I am slated for Hawaii.


Will your family be relocating with you?

Absolutely! My son will actually be graduating from high school in Hawaii and he is excited about it.

How do you feel about transitioning from the academic setting to the military?

I am ready for it. I have been doing this for 15 years this June. I commend people who go to college because it was a big challenge for me. I was not able to integrate the way some people do, since I have a family. I am looking forward to getting back and effecting change in the Army.

How has SHSU helped you prepare for this transition?

ERGrad3The big takeaway that I got from the ROTC program is building relationships. Though I have been in a lot longer, I am going back into the military with a new set of peers. The students that are going to commission the same day I do are my new peer group. We will be navigating through our careers at about the same point. I have more experience, but I needed to learn how to communicate with them, how to build connections and how to foster a family-type of environment with them. I definitely learned that here.

How long do you plan on serving in the military?

By the time I wrap it up, it will be about 25 years. I’ll be at 15 years by the time I commission, with my seven years in Hawaii, that will just leave three years left, and then I will be able to retire at age 43.

What does “The measure of a Life is its Service” mean to you?

A lot of the senior leaders in the military talk about servant leadership and how you become the best leader you can when you stop living for yourself and start doing things for other people. When I found out that Sam Houston’s motto was the same, I knew that I was exactly where I needed to be. I tell my subordinate leaders to lead with their heart first and they can’t go wrong.


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