Virginia Tech Cadet Blends Music and Military to Find ‘Perfect Fit’

Cadet Jacob Steblein plays the trumpet for the Highty-Tighties and the Southern Colonels Jazz Band. Photo by Cadet Jared Ohashi.

Music brought Cadet Jacob Steblein, of Fairfax, Virginia, to the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets.

Yes, music.

The sophomore majoring in finance in the College of Pamplin College of Business doesn’t come from a military family. In fact, the closest relative who did serve was his great-grandfather, and Steblein never met him.

Instead, the trumpet player discovered his interest in the military through the U.S. Army All-American Marching Band, a nationally competitive program for high school seniors. The week-long program focuses on leadership, teamwork, and critical thinking skills and ends with a halftime performance during the All-American Bowl for high school players.

Army recruiters do a lot of work during the week, and their messages stirred Steblein’s interest in a military career.

“I always wanted to do something focused on leadership,” he said.

Virginia Tech and the Corps of Cadets offered him “the perfect fit,” he said: A program focused on leadership training, athletic ability, ethics, and the Highty-Tighties, the regimental band.

“Jacob is an outstanding musician and trumpet player. More importantly, he is a great role model for the Highty-Tighties and the rest of the corps in the way he presents himself. His military appearance is always impeccable, and he is always willing to volunteer his time,” said Jim Bean, senior chief musician (retired) and the regimental band director.

Today, Steblein’s goal is a career in Army intelligence. He’s majoring in finance because he thinks that skill set will help him throughout his life. He’s the recipient of a four-year Army scholarship and a corps Emerging Leader Scholarship.

The Army ROTC gave Steblein his first opportunity to travel overseas this summer.

He competed for the Army’s Cultural Understanding and Language Proficiency (CULP) Program and was sent to Poland for 32 days via the Polish Air Force Academy. He interacted with Polish cadets and trained with a multi-national brigade there. During the month, he learned a lot about Russia-Ukraine relations.

While there, he volunteered to write about his CULP experiences for an article due to be published on the U.S. Embassy and Consulate in Poland’s website.

“I know I will be heading back to the U.S. with a new perspective on international relations,” he wrote. “I can use the knowledge gained from this trip to help cadets in my battalion grow and further my own development into a military officer.”

This semester, Steblein is helping to train first-year cadets as the fire team leader for the Army ROTC’s Charlie Company.

He’s preparing to return to the U.S. Army All-American Marching Band this December for his second year working with the Army recruiting staff.

And he hopes to do more international traveling, in the future. He has his eyes on Switzerland, because of its beauty, and Nepal, because he has a friend from there and he would like to experience his culture.