She has abseiled down a canyon, navigated her platoon on treks, attended various leaders courses and commanded a ceremonial guard - and now Lily Etheridge has made history as the first female to hold the most senior student position in the third oldest cadet unit in the country.
Lily, a Year 11 student from near Barraba, was announced as the incoming Senior Cadet Under Officer at The Armidale School Cadet Unit's final parade for the year on Friday, following annual camp at Nymboida Canoe Centre last week.
While drill and ceremonial work is undertaken and culminates in an annual Passing Out Parade, these days the emphasis is more on outdoor adventure activities such as abseiling, canyoning, kayaking and navigation which promote leadership, initiative, teamwork and bravery.
"The thing I love about cadets is being able to put myself out of my comfort zone and persevere through the countless challenges," Lily said.
The thing I love about cadets is being able to put myself out of my comfort zone and persevere through the countless challenges.Lily Etheridge
"Cadets has allowed me to be in a team environment and grow as a leader, which has enabled me to share my knowledge and experience gained through the years with younger students.
"I feel honoured to achieve such a prestigious position in the cadet unit and I want to continue being a role model for the younger years.
"Regardless of the previous history of male leaders, I feel that any individual can achieve the role with hard work and dedication," she said.
The Unit's Commanding Officer Angus Murray said Lily was more than worthy to take on the mantel of leading the unit.
"Lily is a confident and accomplished leader, building her experience over her years as a junior cadet in the unit, as well as through her time as a member of the School's Ceremonial Guard.
"This year as a platoon commander Lily demonstrated an exceptional level of leadership and diligence in her duties, combined with an empathy for her younger cadets that is repaid by their obvious trust in her abilities," he said.
"Lily has shown a distinct determination to learn and definitely leads from the front.
"We have been lucky enough to have a number of exceptional leaders in recent years in the TAS Cadet Unit, and Lily is ceretainly one of them.
"She should be very proud of what she's managed to achieve over her time in the TAS Cadet Unit.
"I look forward to seeing her lead the unit in 2021," he said.
Working with Lily will be the unit's 2IC, CUO Rohan Lawrence.