LEXINGTON, Va. – Building a new legacy, incoming freshman just finished their summer transition exams on Friday at Virginia Military Institute, and this year is a milestone year for female Cadets.
For 25 years, women have been training alongside men at VMI.
“It’s kind of cool because I can still be part of that era and be that one that makes a difference,” Hannah Buttner, an incoming VMI Cadet said.
Today, no one blinks an eye seeing women like Hannah Buttner among the ranks. But in 1997, a school built on tradition started anew as it opened its doors to women for the first time.
10 News was there as they began a new era – Beth Hogan from Oregon was the first female to sign in that morning, making history at VMI.
Now, 25 years later, seeing women on post is the norm. VMI officials said that this year, about 50 of the 400 incoming Cadets are females.
And Buttner said she hopes that number will grow in the coming years.
Kira Brenaman and Adrianna Sanders are two of the incoming VMI Cadets, and they said they look up to the first set of women who blazed the trail.
“I think it’s really interesting to just look back and see everyone had their hair cut super short,” Brenaman said. “They had pixie cuts. Everyone got yelled at the same. The VMI museum posted a picture of one of the cadres laying to the females in the first year. It’s really cool to see. It’s a real girl boss moment.”
Today, women aren’t just attending, they’re leading.
Last year, Cadet Kasey Meredith became the first female regimental commander, the highest ranking position a Cadet can earn.
“That’s really cool. The first one. I mean she is four years older than us so that’s not too far away. So hopefully that will become the norm here,” Buttner said.
Buttner and her class will be led by the first female ROTC commander at VMI Colonial Nichole Scott.
“It’s exciting to see change happening and if I can be a small piece of that, any type of inspiration to young men and women but specifically the women, I am excited about that opportunity,” Scott said.
25 years later, the next generation of Cadets are following paths carved for them by the women who came before – Paths that guide them along a more defined road to the leaders they aim to become.