Last summer, Chantelle Whipple earned an award at the Leadership & Development Assessment Course for highest female Army Physical Fitness Test score.
 Chantelle Whipple during a field training exercise for ROTC.
 Chantelle Whipple teaches English to a Spanish solider from the Spanish Airborne Brigade.
Chantelle Whipple’s college experience was unlike most. Three times a week she was up at 6:30 a.m. for ROTC physical fitness training; once a week she had a ROTC lab repelling a wall or building a one rope bridge; and once a month she was fulfilling her obligations with the National Guard; all while maintaining a 3.96 grade point average (GPA).

Whipple, a Spanish major from St. Paul, Neb., will be one of more than 400 graduates at Saturday’s 165th Commencement Ceremony at 10 a.m. in the Donald E. Young Sports and Fitness Center.

“Juggling it all – you just learn to manage your time better,” Whipple said. “I am glad I did it all. There are times when I hated it, but looking back it has helped me in a lot of ways.”

Whipple joined both the ROTC and the National Guard her freshman year as a way to pay for school and to prepare for her goal of becoming a pilot like her father.

“My father was a pilot in the Marine Corps so that was how I came to like that idea,” she said.

She is on her way to achieving that goal. Later this month, Whipple will start flight school at the U.S. Army Aviation Center at Fort Rucker, Ala.

Throughout her time as a cadet, Whipple has achieved many high honors. Following her Leadership Development and Assessment Course (LDAC) last summer, Whipple was assessed and ranked 139th out of more than 5,500 commissioning U.S. Army Second Lieutenants in the nation. “A whole bunch of factors go into that assessment,” Whipple said noting that GPA and physical fitness test scores are included in the rankings.  The LDAC assessment in Washington D.C. is a cadet’s last assessment before graduation and includes chemical warfare and land navigation tests as well as a cadet’s ability to lead throughout different obstacles such as an ambush.

She has maintained the highest female and overall highest Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) scores in the Rushmore Army ROTC Battalion for the past three years and is the top commissioning cadet from the battalion this year which is the largest graduating class in the Rushmore Battalion’s history.

Whipple has also distinguished herself by completing the U.S. Army Airborne School in Fort Benning, Ga., and the Bataan Memorial Death March at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.

She completed the ROTC’s Cultural Understanding and Language Proficiency Program and traveled to Spain three times, two through the ROTC, including one time where she taught English to Spanish soldiers. During her second visit through the ROTC, Whipple earned her Spanish Army Airborne wings.

Whipple also serves as a taps bugler at Black Hills National Cemetery for Veterans Days, as well as at veterans’ funerals when requested and provided more than 100 years of volunteer work throughout the community. She has also completed more than 30 hours towards a private pilot license.

Whipple received the Superior Cadet Award in 2012 and was the 2013 George C. Marshall Leadership Award winner from the Mount Rushmore Army ROTC Battalion.

There will be no relaxing for Whipple after graduation. She heads back to Nebraska for her sister’s high school graduation, gets married on May 25 and reports for flight school on May 31.

Whipple, who is contracted for six years of active duty, does not know where her path will take her after that. However, she knows it will likely include a job that keeps her in the air.