Layla Sweet

Layla Sweet holds Breaking Barriers Award at Ohio University Women's Achievement Dinner

Photo courtesy of: University Communications and Marketing

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Layla Sweet is University’s first female ROTC commander


Ohio University’s Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program is breaking new glass ceilings.

Lt. Col. Layla Sweet is the first female ROTC commander for either the Air Force or Army at Ohio University. She has been enlisted in the Air Force for 23 years.

Despite being in the military, Sweet has earned a bachelor’s degree and two master’s degrees in social psychology, public health, and military operational art and science.

Originally from Oxford, Ohio, she said the position at Ohio University stood out to her because she had never visited the Athens Campus before.

“I wanted to be somewhere close to home, but not in my hometown,” Sweet said.

Sweet was appointed to the top Air Force ROTC position in July 2016 and will serve in that role for three years.

“I’m honored and I want to make sure I set a good example for being the first female commander,” Sweet said.

According to Statistic Brain, 19 percent of women in the military serve in the Air Force branch and 15 percent serve in the military overall.

Sweet said she wants to serve in the Athens community as a role model, mentor and leader.

She said one of her primary goals as commander is to significantly grow Air Force Detachment 650 after the program was without a recruiter for three years. 

Detachment 650 now has eight female cadets almost doubling the female enrollment rate as of March 2017.

Sweet said that one of the most difficult things about her job is having to decide whether to keep a cadet in the program after they make a poor choice.

“I have to decide if they’ve learned from their mistake, if I think they will repeat the mistake, and ultimately if they will make a good Air Force officer,” Sweet said.

Sweet was the recipient of the “Breaking Barriers Award” from the Ohio University Women’s Center at its Women’s Achievement Dinner on March 2. The award is given to a woman who has demonstrated success working in a male-dominated field.

“I’m extremely honored to be selected for this award and for being recognized by the Women’s Center here on campus. I hope to continue to do great things for the Air Force, Ohio University, and the community at large,” Sweet said.

For more information about the Air Force ROTC program at Ohio University, visit https://www.ohio.edu/uc/rotc/air-force/.