Current Issue

July 11, 2012

Vol. 112, No. 15

Features

From Commencement to the Army: A ‘sense of obligation’

By Jennifer Altmann
Published in the July 11, 2012, issue


Thomas Boggiano ’12 gets a handshake from Sgt. 1st Class Gregory Bentow after receiving his first salute as an officer.
PHOTO: SAMEER A. KHAN
Thomas Boggiano ’12 gets a handshake from Sgt. 1st Class Gregory Bentow after receiving his first salute as an officer.

A few hours after Commencement, Greg Colella ’12 exchanged his graduation robe for military dress blues and swore an oath to support and defend the Consti­tution. As a second lieutenant in the Army, he will report to Fort Benning, Ga., in September for armor school, and he has joined a National Guard unit based in Philadelphia. “Hope­fully I’ll be able to go to Afghanistan,” Colella said. 

Colella is one of five members of the graduating class — along with Thomas Boggiano, John Caves, Derek Grego, and Ernie Wang — who spent their years at Princeton as members of the Tiger Battalion of ROTC. They became Army officers June 5 at a commissioning ceremony held in the faculty room of Nassau Hall, attended by President Tilghman and about 130 family members and well-wishers. 

Colella is the third generation of his family to join the military. Still, his decision was not easy for his mother, Terry Donovan, a former Navy nurse. “I probably did try and talk him out of it sometimes,” she said. “The safety part of me — the mom part of me — says no, but the part of me that encourages my kids to be independent and make a contribution says you’ve got to be proud of him.”

Wang joined the Army to give back to the country that welcomed his parents — immigrants from Taiwan — and pro­vided his father with funding to attend ­medical school. At the end of the cere­mony, Wang’s parents stepped forward to pin the epaulettes ­representing the second-lieutenant’s rank on their son’s ­uniform. 

“As parents, we always worry about putting our son in harm’s way, but this was something he wanted to do,” said Wang’s father, Henry. “He feels a sense of obligation.”

The parents of Greg Colella ’12 proudly pin epaulettes on the uniform of their son, a second lieutenant.
PHOTO: SAMEER A. KHAN
The parents of Greg Colella ’12 proudly pin epaulettes on the uniform of their son, a second lieutenant.
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CURRENT ISSUE: July 11, 2012
Commencement 2012
BITTERSWEET FAREWELL
A diary by Angela Wu ’12
COMMENCEMENT VOICES
Quotations from speakers
GRAD SCHOOL HOODING
Beer for intellectuals
HONORARY DEGREES
Pete Carril, Aretha Franklin, and more
SURVEY
From the 2012 Nassau Herald
COMMENCEMENT PUZZLE
‘In the middle’
Web Exclusives
VIDEO, PHOTOS
Highlights from Commencement 2012