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NEWS | June 5, 2020

New Army lieutenant fulfills childhood desire to serve

By Staff Sgt. Shawn Morris 99th Readiness Division

Sixteen cadets from the City University of New York’s Reserve Officers’ Training Corps became Army second lieutenants during a virtual commissioning ceremony June 5.

“America’s greatest generations are built on the strength of its strongest citizens – its men and women who serve in the armed forces,” said Maj. Gen. Mark Palzer, commanding general of the U.S. Army Reserve’s 99th Readiness Division, during pre-recorded keynote remarks. “Today, we celebrate the continued legacy of honorable service being carried on by our current generation of men and women in uniform.”

One young man continuing this legacy is 2nd Lt. Samuel Quintero, a City College of New York student who received his commission through the CUNY ROTC program along with 15 of his fellow cadets.

“There’s something special about CUNY ROTC,” said Quintero, a native of Malverne, Long Island. “Every single cadet that I worked with, they were there for a purpose. Without their commitment, without their participation in the program, I would never have learned this much about leadership, this much about myself, and as much about the military that I have over these four years.”

Quintero said he has had the desire to serve since he was a teenager.

“I’ve always been interested in being able to improve someone else’s situation, no matter how small,” said Quintero, who will serve at the Farmingdale Armed Forces Reserve Center in Long Island. “Back in ninth grade, I started thinking about careers I would want to do once I graduated, and I wanted to do something that had to do with service to people.

“I found ROTC on campus the first week (of college),” he continued. “I was interested, so I made a deal with my parents that I would try it out for one semester, and the rest is history.”

Quintero, who is also graduating from the City College of New York as an international studies major with a concentration in culture and communications, wants to serve people in his civilian career as well.

“I want to work with organizations that provide social services, human services to people with disabilities, people suffering from financial struggles, organizations that work with veterans – basically, any group that has a special need,” he explained.

Being part of an ROTC program in a large city presents unique challenges according to Quintero, who said he often had to wake up between 3 and 4 a.m. in order to walk a mile to the local bus stop and travel to Queens for physical training.

“I was surprised by how committed cadets could be – having to wake up early in the morning and take the train, having to take all their equipment. I had some friends who would have to work the night shift and then go straight to training,” he said. “They always showed up and gave 100 percent.”

Giving 100 percent is something with which Quintero is very familiar, according to Lt. Col. Nichole Drakeford, professor of military science at CUNY.

“Cadet Quintero was my first choice for the ‘Empire Battalion's’ commander position,” said Drakeford in a June 2 interview. “He is mature beyond his years, yet he is able to relate to his peers and mentor when necessary.

“Within just a few class sessions, it became obvious that Cadet Quintero was a hard worker, an avid learner and open to the opportunities that the Army had to offer him,” Drakeford continued. “Cadet Quintero was called upon by cadre and numerous students to support missions and critical ROTC events and programs.

“While continuing to do well in academic studies, Cadet Quintero remained actively involved in several student activities, was a mentor for the underclassmen of the ROTC program, and volunteered countless hours to ensure the success of the ROTC program,” she added. “He continues to be an outstanding leader, and he has a bright future in the military.”

For more information about CUNY’s ROTC program, visit