News of South Carolina State University of late has been highlighted by names such as Buddy Pough and Charlie Way.
Pough, the veteran coach, will return for a final season at the helm of Bulldog football. Way, an Orangeburg native and Charleston businessman, is retiring as chairman of the university board after 2-1/2 years in the position.
Developments surrounding both men are high profile, but another person affiliated with the university and its neighbor, Claflin University, has made news worthy of particular note as well.
On Dec. 1, Darlington native Twanda Young was promoted to brigadier general during a ceremony at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. She is the first female officer commissioned through S.C. State's renowned ROTC program to be promoted to general.
Young earned a bachelor of arts in English from Claflin and completed the ROTC program at S.C. State as a cross-enrollment student. She was named a 1988 Distinguished Military Graduate of the S.C. State ROTC program.
Motivated by past challenges that surrounded her as a woman and African-American leader in the military, Young rose in the ranks of the Army.
She has served in command and staff positions in the continental U.S. and Hawaii with First Army, Joint Forces Command and the U.S. Army Reserve Command. Young has also served in Afghanistan.
Among many accomplishments, she has received several awards, including the Legion of Merit, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Staff Badge and the Airborne Badge.
Additionally, Young earned a master of arts in adult education and a master of arts in executive development from Ball State University. She also holds a master’s degree in strategic studies from the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania.
She currently serves as the deputy commanding general for the U.S. Army Human Resources Command at Fort Knox, Kentucky.
Young's achievement continues the legacy of the S.C. State ROTC program marking 70 years in 2017.
Its history is rich.
The Department of Military Science was established at S.C. State on July 1, 1947. The first graduating class in 1949 consisted of six cadets: Five received Army commissions and one received a Reserve commission. Since the establishment of ROTC at S.C. State, more than 2,000 students have received commissions in the U.S. Armed Forces.
Initially, the Army ROTC program produced only Infantry officers. It was supplanted in 1954 by the General Military Science Program enabling graduating cadets to select the branch of the Army in which they were most interested and qualified.
From 1947 until 1968, enrollment in the ROTC program was mandatory for all able-bodied freshman and sophomore male students at S.C. State.
A cross-enrollment program was initiated in 1968 to permit students from other local institutions without ROTC programs to receive training at S.C. State and remain at the institution of their choice. S.C. State has cross-enrollment agreements with Claflin, Voorhees College, Denmark Technical College and Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College.
During academic year 1972-73, the Department of the Army initiated a five-year program of enrolling women in ROTC. S.C. State was one of 10 institutions selected nationwide to participate. The first females graduated in 1976.
Young's promotion brings to 23 the number of S.C. State graduates having achieved the rank of general officer with 16 commissioned through the Army ROTC Program.
The Bulldog Battalion averages approximately 160 cadets and is still recognized as one of the largest producers of minority officers for the Army.
The program's status has attracted a number of high-ranking officials to S.C. State, including retired Gen. Colin L. Powell, who gave the university’s keynote commencement address in May 2011 and became the first honorary member of S.C. State’s ROTC Hall of Fame.
Brigadier General Young is the embodiment of the Bulldog Battalion building soldiers possessing the traits of dedication, loyalty and persistence. She credits her success to a good home foundation provided by her parents, faith and the integrity to stay true to her word and never waver on doing the right thing.
Her promotion is a crowning achievement for the 70-year-old S.C. State ROTC program.