Feb. 8, 2023

NDSU alumna promoted to Army Brigadier General


NDSU alumna Rebecca (Bradwisch) McElwain has joined a select few in the U.S. Army.

McElwain, BS ’97, business administration, was promoted to Brigadier General during a ceremony Jan. 9 at Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter, South Carolina. She is one of only 30 female general officers in the Army.

She also is the only female active duty general officer from North Dakota. Brig. Gen. Jackie Huber of the North Dakota National Guard is the only other woman in the state to hold that rank.

McElwain is assigned to U.S. Army Central, where she is the assistant chief of staff, G8 comptroller and is responsible for the command’s budgeting and resources management.

McElwain said her promotion means a legacy for her family, state and nation.

“Legacy is one of my favorite things about the United States. It is something worth fighting for,” McElwain said. “This promotion allows an opportunity for my continued investment in the sons and daughters currently serving our nation. It is an honor to teach, grow and challenge our future leaders. Encouraging them in their successes, providing them a safe space to fail and learn – so that they are one day able to offer their sturdy shoulders to the next generation.”

The newly-promoted general has fond memories of her collegiate days rappelling down the side of a campus building during her time with NDSU’s ROTC unit. Since then, she’s rappelled on four continents. “I’ve rappelled from the back of helicopters, jungle platforms and cliffs. Many thanks to NDSU for allowing that first jump,” McElwain said.

She has kind words for her NDSU experience and the College of Business.

“University life at NDSU is a positive reflection of the community that it resides in. The NDSU faculty invests in their students, the school and each other,” McElwain said. “The NDSU College of Business provided a sturdy educational foundation for my profession as a fiscal manager in the Army. It also laid the groundwork for my continued education and, frankly, for life.”

Would she encourage prospective students to consider NDSU?

“Absolutely! NDSU is an incredible school in a fantastic location. It is the perfect size for a university; large enough to provide numerous, quality, degree programs, but small enough that the professors know each student. Students are not just another face in the crowd, they are investments,” McElwain said. “Combine that with first class Army and Air Force ROTC programs, and the opportunities are endless!”

Her 28-year military career has led to assignments in Asia, Europe, Australia and the Middle East.

“The most incredible part about my job is leading soldiers. There is nothing like investing in and developing our next generation of leaders and I am absolutely humbled by the sacredness of leading the sons and daughters of our nation,” she said. “The Army provides infinite opportunities for education, training, hands on experience, fantastic benefits, travel, adventure – but most of all, purpose.”

McElwain was raised on a family farm near Karlsruhe, North Dakota, and graduated from Minot High School. “The values that were instilled while growing up in North Dakota align with the values of our United States Army – loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage,” she said. I am so very proud of our Army and so very proud to serve our nation.”

McElwain and her husband, James, have a son, Andrew.

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