Melissa native Daniel Robert Bless was one of 19 Sam Houston State University seniors who recently joined the ranks of the U.S. Army, graduating from cadet to second lieutenant during the Army ROTC Bearkat Battalion Spring Commissioning Ceremony.

Bless took the U.S. Army oath of office on May 10 before receiving his degree during one of SHSU’s four commencement ceremonies May 10-11.

"I am incredibly proud of this graduating class," said Lt. Col. David Yebra, chair of the SHSU military science department. "They distinguished themselves academically, physically and militarily.

"Seven of the new lieutenants graduated as distinguished military graduates — a designation reserved for those in the top 20 percent in the country of approximately 5,400 cadets commissioning," he added. "They will not only excel as active duty officers, but will also make a significant contribution to society as members of the Army National Guard, and U.S. Army Reserve."

As a second lieutenant, Bless and the 18 other commissioned soldiers will go on to serve in leadership positions in various Army branches in stations all over the world.

Bless enrolled at Sam Houston State University in the fall of 2009 and entered the ROTC program the fall of 2010 with a two-year Army ROTC scholarship. During his participation in the Bearkat Battalion, Bless served in various leadership positions, including the position of squad leader during the fall of 2011 and battalion S-3 and tactical officer during the spring of 2013. He was also a member of the ROTC color guard for one year and made the Dean’s List in 2009 and 2010.

Bless graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in criminal justice and a minor in military science. He received an active duty commission as an infantry officer and will serve his first duty assignment at Fort Hood. The Bearkat Battalion Commissioning Ceremonies are held three times a year in conjunction with SHSU’s graduation ceremonies.

The guest speaker for the spring event was Maj. Gen. James K. Brown, commanding general of the 36th infantry division in the Texas Army National Guard, who, among other points, recognized the family members for their support, sacrifice and dedication.

"He acknowledged the incredible commitment that our young officers are making and that they represent a small percentage of our population that have a desire to serve, are able to serve, and that complete all the tasks to commission," Yebra said. "Maj. Gen. Brown also touched on the honor it is as an officer to lead the world’s best noncommissioned officer corps and America’s treasure—our young soldiers."

SHSU is located in Huntsville.