Aaron Boehm, GSAS, (from left) Elisabeth Aigeldinger, Isaiah Coleman, Navy take their oath.

Aaron Boehm (from left), Elisabeth Aigeldinger, and Isaiah Coleman take their oath during the commissioning ceremony.

Photos by Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer

Campus & Community

A family affair

5 min read

Newly minted officers given honors by family and loved ones

For some the ceremony marked an opportunity to blaze a new path while for others it felt more like carrying an important family torch.

Under blue skies, surrounded by family and friends, 16 new officers were sworn in as part of the annual joint Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) commissioning ceremony at Tercentenary Theatre on Wednesday.

The undergraduates, a mix of Navy midshipmen and Army, Air Force, and Space Force cadets, were joined onstage by Lt. Gen. Maria B. Barrett, the commanding general of the U.S. Army Cyber Command, and Harvard President Larry Bacow.

Barrett, a highly decorated officer, continues the legacy of her father — an Italian immigrant who joined the American military in World War II and was awarded the Silver Star.

She welcomed the new officers to their new “second family” in the armed services.

“You will go through many moves together and the support that you have today from other veterans — you will find that support throughout your career of people who have gone before you,” she said.

Barrett advised them to take care of their people, set high standards, and lead by example. She warned that there would be tough challenges ahead but what would make the sacrifices worthwhile was their commitment to a higher purpose.

“This commitment will be hard at times. With responsibility comes decisions that keep you up at night … But I would not be standing here before you today if I didn’t think it was worth it, and I didn’t enjoy what I do — passionately.”

She continued, “My job is to ensure the next generation of leaders is ready to lead our sons and daughters and continue in this noble profession.”

Bacow applauded the new officers for their service and reminded them that they were joining a long line of Harvard students who served their country throughout its history.

“Harvard is proud of this tradition, proud of the intersection of the United States military and what we have to offer,” he said. “You continue a long line of those who come not just from Harvard, but from institutions like us, that value the service that you’re about to provide, that believe in you, and that believe in what each and every one of you will do for our country.”

Zavier Chavez.
“My patriotic spirit comes from a young age,” said Army Reserve 2nd Lt. Zavier Chavez (pictured), who can trace his family’s military service back to the Revolutionary War.

For Zavier Chavez, the talk of legacy extends beyond Harvard. The family of the newly sworn-in Army Reserve second lieutenant has a long history of service, one which he is proud to continue.

“My patriotic spirit comes from a young age,” he said. “I’m very happy about this.”

His mother, former Army Capt. Kym Chavez, said the ceremony felt like a “huge honor.”

“We can trace our lineage in the military all the way back to the Revolutionary War. And so someone served in every major campaign except for Grenada,” she said. “He’s carrying on that tradition.”

Kym Chavez got the honor of pinning two gold bars to her son’s uniform signifying his graduation to the new rank in keeping with the tradition of having a friend or loved one perform the rite.

Also pinned by a parent was Space Force 2nd Lt. Cameron Morgan, whose father, Capt. Eric Morgan, is set to retire from a decadeslong naval career this summer, and whose grandfather is retired Marine Corps Col. Ronald Morgan.

“I grew up in a military environment. So I very much had that legacy of service instilled in me,” Morgan said, smiling amongst a group of friends after the ceremony. He said he wanted his dad, who’s retiring in June, to be the one to pin him as a symbolic passing of the torch.

“That was a really special for me,” he said.

Originally from San Diego, Morgan will be heading off to his first duty at Vandenberg Space Force Base after graduation. He will be graduating with a bachelor’s in astrophysics.

A major theme of the day was leadership. And one early leader was Maddy Gavitt, who will serve in the Army infantry. The newly minted second lieutenant’s grades have earned her the distinction of being the top female ROTC graduate in the country. Others who will serve in the Army include Grace Motes, who will be an active-duty military intelligence officer; John Murray who will attend an infantry basic officer leadership course at Fort Moore in Georgia this summer; and Aaron Boehm, who will serve as an air defense artillery officer following a course at Fort Bliss in Texas.

Graduates headed for the Air Force include: Jacob Brown who will serve as a contracting officer at Cannon Air Force Base in New Mexico; Maria Gonzalez as an intelligence officer at Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo, Texas; Joseph McDonough as a tactical air control party officer at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas; Michael Mizell as a physicist at the Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, California, and Ariann Jones who will be pursuing developmental engineering for the Space Force.

Navy Ensign Elisabeth Aigeldinger will report to the USS Michael Murphy in Pearl Harbor for her first tour while Ensigns Isaiah Coleman, Kyle Englander, Jack Leland, and Matthew Mullahy will all report to Nuclear Power School in Charleston, South Carolina, for their first tours.