Cadet Anna Yemelianova ’25, international studies major, was named a fellow in the Iris Burton Bulls Reserve Officers’ Training Corps Fellowship Program. The program is part of the Defense Language and National Security Education Office and supports a select group of ROTC cadets and midshipmen participating in National Security Education Program initiatives to incorporate language, regional expertise, and culture training as key aspects of their leadership roles. It is named after the late retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. Iris Burton Bulls in recognition of her outstanding contributions to the Department of Defense.
Bulls served on the Defense Language Transformation team, which developed the plan to build foreign language capabilities of strategic interest to DoD and build a language-competent society for the United States. Her work on DLT resulted in the secretary of defense publishing the comprehensive DLT roadmap that guided the development of language capacity throughout the department. Bulls helped found the Defense Language Office in 2006 and helped lead DLNSEO in 2012 as the founding deputy director. She played a key role in supporting the development of the innovative ROTC Project Global Officer program to create a future officer cadre with language, regional expertise, and cultural skills.
“Being accepted into the Iris Burton Bulls ROTC Fellowship Program is more than just a privilege and honor. This fellowship stands as a testament to the remarkable life and accomplishments of Iris Burton Bulls, a woman who excelled not only in her military service but also in her civilian and personal life. Her incredible contributions and steadfast commitments cannot be overstated.
“The program has provided students, including myself, with the invaluable opportunity to deepen our passion for language learning, cultural awareness, and regional understanding. I am humbled to have the opportunity to interact with experienced foreign affairs officers and learn from educated regional experts who will provide enriching knowledge as I pursue my future career as a Naval officer,” said Yemelianova.
According to Col. Travis Homiak ’95, VMI Naval ROTC commanding officer, Yemelianova’s selection to the program is well deserved. “Yemelianova is easily one of the most talented cadets in her class and certainly within her cohort of NROTC midshipmen. Her intellectual curiosity, high level of academic performance, and willingness to put herself out there clearly set her apart from her peers and made her an easy choice for the selection board,” he said.
The Iris Burton Bulls ROTC Fellowship Program is intended to honor Bulls’ lifelong service and her commitment to language and culture training by building a community of ROTC alumni from the suite of National Security Education Programs who demonstrate interest in and commitment to understanding regions and cultures through intensive language study.
Each year, approximately five talented ROTC participants are nominated by program directors or campus ROTC commanders for selection following the participant’s completion of either the Project GO, Boren, or the Language Flagship programs. The first cohort of fellows traveled to Washington, D.C., in June for a one-day national security seminar at George Washington University, followed by a day of professional mentoring meetings with DoD senior leadership, Service Senior Language Authorities, and members of military language communities. In keeping with Bulls’ deep commitment to leader development, the first cohort of fellows will serve as mentors to the next class of fellows in 2024.
Yemelianova is from Chantilly, Virginia, and a graduate of Veritas Collegiate Academy. She is the daughter of Andrei Yemelianov and Natallia Yemelianova.
Marianne Hause VMI Communications & Marketing
Editor's Note: Story originally published by Virginia Military Institute.