A Florida State University Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps cadet has earned the U.S. Army’s top cadet award.
Cadet Lexington McLellan, cadet battalion commander for FSU’s Army ROTC Seminole Battalion and a senior in the Department of Psychology, earned the 2021 U.S. Army Cadet Command George C. Marshall Award. As part of the award, McLellan represented FSU at the Marshall Award’s Leadership Seminar, which was held virtually last month.
Cadets are selected for the award based on scholarship, leadership, physical fitness and community involvement. McLellan said she was humbled by the honor.
“I was shocked when I found out I was nominated for this award,” McLellan said. “I’ve grown up with this program and look up to previous leaders who received this award. I never thought I could compare.”
Each year, the top Army ROTC Cadet from every college-level unit is recognized with this award and invited to attend the annual leadership seminar. FSU recipients from the past three years were Cadets Melissa Febbo, Zachary Johnson, and Ke’von Harris.
The award is named after soldier and statesman George C. Marshall, who played a vital role in U.S. and international affairs from 1939-51, the years that shaped the second half of the century.
Marshall served as Army Chief of Staff during World War II and as Secretary of State under President Harry Truman, during which time he developed the Marshall Plan, an economic program that helped turn the tide of communism in post-WWII Western Europe.
“Cadet McLellan is the top cadet within the FSU Army ROTC program for academic year 2021,” Army Maj. Michael Smith said. “She displays the character and leadership attributes that the Army values within its officer corps. She leads by example and sets a high standard for other cadets to follow.”
Throughout the seminar, Marshall Award recipients take part in unique educational activities focused on leadership and national security issues and are granted opportunities to interact with the nation’s top military and civic leaders. Cadets engage in roundtable discussions with Army and defense experts on critical defense issues and geopolitical matters.
“She works hard and is always looking for a better, more efficient way to do something,” said Cadet Sergeant Major Jessica Hole said of McLellan. “When serving as battalion commander and sergeant major together, McLellan put hours into projects that benefited others. Her continual efforts toward improvement are refreshing, and she deeply cares about how her leadership decisions affect others.”
Growing up in a military family, McLellan moved several times throughout her childhood. While living in Germany, she attended high school on a military base, took a German driving test, and was the only American in a professional women’s soccer league called Frauen I Bundesliga Sindelfingen, which translates to the European Women’s Soccer League representing the town of Sindelfingen, Germany.
“When I joined the soccer team, I had to pick up German as fast as I could in order to work well with my teammates and get the most out of our trainings and matches together. Living overseas has made me more responsible and more independent. I feel comfortable throwing myself into the unknown, and new chapters in life excite me,” McLellan said. “My experience moving across the globe with my family allowed me to create adaptive habits that are now useful in many situations.”
McLellan was inspired to attend FSU after earning a four-year Army ROTC scholarship. Once in Tallahassee, she threw herself into opportunities afforded to her via the ROTC program, trying out for each team, volunteering for every job and helping lead the Seminole Battalion’s Ranger Challenge team to a second-place victory in the 2021 regional competition. Following her graduation and commissioning this spring, McLellan will report to flight school at Fort Rucker, Alabama.
“In my eyes, the most important factors in being a successful leader are to understand your people and to take care of them. Majoring in psychology opened my eyes to the importance of social interactions and personal development,” McLellan said. “I’m most interested in social psychology, studying how individuals react in certain social situations and industrial or organizational psychology, studying how individuals impact organizations and teams. Both areas of study serve as great foundations for leadership roles and I’m excited to bring my psychology degree along with me in my military career.”