Pitt State ROTC CADET defied the odds to become as a distinguished military graduate

Derrick Sumner battled homelessness entering his freshman year and now commissioned as a second lieutenant

PITTSBURG, Kan. – Upon entering his freshman year at Pittsburg State, Derrick Sumner was met with difficult times. Four years later, he completed his bachelor’s degree in psychology.

“I had some problems with my family, and so I ended up being homeless from senior year to my freshman year. I wasn’t even going to come to college because I didn’t think I was going to afford it. And I was living on couches with my friends and my friends family,” says Cadet Derrick Sumner.

Financial aid helped him to attend PSU. Sumner has military background and swore he would not take that path, but something changed after talking with officers.

“Because everyone in my family has been enlisted and it was something about them that like they portrayed — there was that sense of being and purpose for their careers and I just wanted to be a part of that,” added Sumner.

Sumner’s dedication to the Pitt State ROTC program the last four years led to his commission as a second lieutenant, along with 8 other fellow cadets, on Friday.

“He took a lot of adversity and turned it into an advantage. And he kind of used that. He externalized that and made himself — what is now, he’s a second lieutenant in the United States Army. He is going active duty,” says Lieutenant Colonel Charles Costello, professor of military science at PSU.

1st Lt. Taylor Wiebe, assistant professor of military science at PSU, has watched Sumner grow into the leader he is today.

“His confidence has only grown over the course of four years. So it was really cool, not only as an alumni, but now as an instructor to come back and see what the product of this program can produce,” adds Wiebe.

Throughout time at Pitt State, Sumner was chosen as the cadet battalion commander, he nominated for Homecoming King, and was named the winner of the national George C. Marshal Award. Sumner says he could not have gotten to this point without support he received.

“I know there was people there along the way that actually did help me and I don’t want to take away from that at all because I don’t know if I could have done that without them,” adds Sumner.

Cadet Derrick Sumner will take part in a national ROTC Commissioning Ceremony as an active duty officer. He’ll be commissioning as an active duty quartermaster officer and will attend Basic Officer Leaders Course at Fort Lee, Virginia.

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