By Alex Mclaughlin
Feature Photo by Darryl Walker
FORT KNOX, Kentucky—
(pictured above, left to right: LDAC 8th Regiment Cadets Mikayla Stewart, Craig Longmire and Lindsey Coffey from Auburn University.)
Auburn University Cadet Mikayla Stewart arrived at Fort Knox with the skills to succeed at Leadership Development Assessment Course like many other Cadets.
However, Mikayla is not your average Cadet. The well-spoken Cadet embodies the principle of selfless service taught by the Army.
The Exercise Science major from Fayetteville, Ga., builds her life around being a positive influence in the lives of others. Stewart’s greater goal is to become a physical therapist to help others in the Army when she completes her already successful campaign at LDAC.
When not heavily involved in her ROTC program at Auburn, Stewart ensures her time is spent being involved on campus practicing the values she has learned from the Army.
Stewart is a member of Omega Phi Alpha, a sorority that promotes service to their chapters’ universities as well as the community at large. This is just one of the many organizations on campus she is involved with.
In her free time, Stewart keeps her physical fitness at top level through club soccer, a sport which she grew up playing.
LDAC is the final steppingstone for Cadets such as Stewart who want to commission in the Army. Despite Stewart’s success at Auburn University, it was not enough and she is motivated as ever to learn and complete LDAC.
“LDAC is just a different lifestyle to what you get used to at universities,” Stewart said. “Some people come to LDAC thinking they know everything. No matter what, everyone learns and develops in some way.”
Cadet summer training at Fort Knox has been tough this year. Intense heat has changed the training schedule drastically, making for very early mornings for the Cadets. The morale of some Cadets may waver, but Stewart keeps a positive attitude no matter what the situation.
“I’ll admit: I’m a bit of an Army brat.” Stewart said. “My father is a Lieutenant Colonel, so I was raised to enjoy this stuff. He is also my biggest inspiration to come here and succeed. This is all fun to me.”
Stewart recognizes the importance of safety and the need to adjust training schedules accordingly.
“They won’t let us train late in the day when the temperature is very high,” she said. “We have had some heat casualties, so it is good that the leadership is taking precautions to prevent that.”
The atmosphere at LDAC, more specifically the learning style, is much different from what Cadets experience at their universities. This is a quality of LDAC that Stewart embraces.
“They took our cell phones the second or third day of LDAC,” Stewart said. “I thought that was a great idea. It really increases our focus on the training and builds camaraderie with the Cadets.”
Stewart is a part of LDAC Regt. 8, which is almost halfway through its training program. Although they have experienced a plethora of training and surprises already, Stewart says Cadets are still looking forward to what LDAC still has to offer.
Stewart, however, has her eyes set on Platoon Operations Training.
“Auburn prepared us well for patrolling lanes,” Stewart said. “I am excited to show how well we can ambush and raid. The way they teach us tactics at Auburn is second to none.”
Stewart is a part of the color guard at Auburn University. She participated in her Regimental activation ceremony and looks forward to doing the same at LDAC graduation.
“I’m already looking forward to graduation,” Stewart said. “Sgt. 1st Class Day at Auburn told me to come here and just be myself and complete my mission. He really prepared us for LDAC. I am just listening to his advice and I am succeeding.”