Cadet Nathan Underwood chose the map for his future. The U.S. Army will choose the route.

Underwood, a senior from Manassas, Virginia, will commission as a second lieutenant on Dec. 21 a few hours after graduating from Virginia Tech with a degree in finance from the Pamplin College of Business and a minor in leadership studies from the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets’ Rice Center for Leader Development.

All Underwood knows for certain is he will be a field artillery officer, and he starts his training on Jan. 8. He’s okay with that.

“All you can do is say, ‘Okay. Here we go,’ ” Underwood said. “I try not to complicate it.”

That easy attitude serves him well his final semester in the corps, where he’s the 2nd Battalion commander, overseeing more than 300 cadets, and a member of the Army ROTC’s Ranger Company.

“With a dedicated focus in developing meaningful relationships with others through his active engagement in a wide variety of academic, campus, ROTC, and corps activities, Cadet Underwood has matured into an exceptional leader from some demanding, trying situations and shared life lessons with other aspiring leaders,” said Capt. James Snyder, deputy commandant for 2nd Battalion.

Underwood knew that he wanted a career in the military before he came to Virginia Tech. His father graduated from the United States Naval Academy, but Underwood was drawn to the Army because he thought it could be something fun to try and it brought educational benefits.

Through his four years in the corps, Underwood has honed his military skills, put leadership lessons into practice, and figured out what “service” means to him.

“It’s not about me. That finally clicked this semester,” he said. In that simple mantra of selfless service, Underwood finds inner calm and an understanding of where he’s headed in the Army.

“Everyone finds something they want to do in college,” he said. “For us in the corps, it just carries a little bit more weight.”

Written by Shay Barnhart