In The Light: Thomas Leonard

Amanda Fox

Relaxed and confident, senior Tom Leonard coolly describes his Colgate experience as “rewarding and challenging.” He explains that Colgate’s “great community,” drew him to Hamilton, New York and he certainly has no regrets.

Leonard walked on to the rowing team during his first year here, declaring, “I committed myself wholeheartedly to the sport.” Undoubtedly an impressive time commitment, Leonard has devoted a good portion of his college career to the sport. It was “the cornerstone of my Colgate experience,” he says.

Leonard is involved both on and off campus. Leonard is captain of the varsity rowing team, a member of the senior honors society, Konosioni, and a member of Semper Fi. Leonard also graduated this past August from Officer Candidate School through a platoon leader’s course. He explains that he wanted “a normal college experience without the commitment during the year [to the Marines].” He explains, “I could grow my hair out, grow a beard.” The program allows Leonard to graduate as a second lieutenant–the same rank he would earn if he attended a service academy or Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC).

Leonard graduated this past August alongside three other seniors: JD Powers, Ryan Harbison, and Ryan Colameo. Certainly not the traditional route, Leonard admirably explains, “I am the first in my family to do anything like this. Living in New Jersey, I was affected by 9/11. I wanted to serve my country.” As a child, Leonard dreamed about attending Annapolis, but decided later that he wanted a traditional college experience. Essentially, the program is a “boot camp for officers. Eight or nine Colgate students have been or are in this course.” He declares without hesitation that, “I fell in love with it after six weeks.”

Leonard is concentrating in history. He had “quite a few really good history classes early on and was impressed with the department.” Leonard’s post-graduate plans are tentative, but, he says, “If all goes well, I will accept my commission in May to the Marines.” He is still exploring his options, and things are “up in the air,” but he is also interested in going to law school and becoming a JAG lawyer.

Leonard has undoubtedly taken advantage of the plethora of opportunities here at Colgate. He offers a word of advice to first-years: “Don’t be afraid to explore. If you find something that peaks your interest, really commit to it.” Leonard appears to be the prime example of just that.