LEXINGTON, Va. – History is being made at Virginia Military Institute at a time when the school is under the microscope.
For the first time in its 182 years, VMI chose a female cadet to hold the highest-ranking position a student can earn.
Cadet Kasey Meredith was named Cadet First Captain and Regimental Commander.
“She’s a superstar,” said Lara Chambers, the first female alumnus appointed to the VMI Board of Visitors. She said she’s thrilled.
“This is one of the, I guess, the last hurdles to fully integrate females into VMI,” said Chambers.
Chambers said that as a female cadet, she wanted to be treated the same as the men. She said Meredith earned the role and earned the respect of her peers.
“They earn respect by putting in the work and she’s clearly put in the work,” said Chambers.
VMI Director of Communications Col. Bill Wyatt said it’s a lengthy application process. Cadets are scrutinized and Meredith came out on top.
“We take a look at academics. We take a look at military. We take a look at interactions between cadets and the housekeepers and the dining staff,” said Wyatt. “We really want a well-rounded cadet for this position and Ms. Meredith was impressive in all those areas. General Wins felt like she was the best person for the job.”
Meredith will take on the new role as a senior for the 2021-22 school year. She’ll be the military commander of the Corps of Cadets, responsible for their training, appearance, discipline, health, welfare and morale.
VMI has been under the microscope in a push for diversity, equity and inclusion. Early results from an independent investigation into the school detail that members across the VMI community said discrimination and treatment of female cadets may be more concerning than conditions for racial minorities.
Chambers said that man or woman, Meredith’s the best choice for the job.
“I think she earned it organically and is well deserved,” said Chambers. “She is the best of the best.”
Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy was one of the first women to graduate from VMI. In a statement to 10 News, she writes in part:
“I want to congratulate Cadet Kasey Meredith on her historic achievement. She will play a critical role in the development of future leaders, and I’m confident she will lead the Corps of Cadets with honor and integrity. Her accomplishment is part of the long fight for gender equality. I’m proud of the progress we have made, but recognize that there is still much work to be done as we fight for a Virginia where everyone – no matter their gender – has the opportunity to thrive.”