• Sarah Mbiki
  • Susan M. Branch ’99
  • Guin Thi
  • Kemal Atkins ’92 ’96
  • Fidel Leal
  • Traci Royster
  • Brian Shangwa ’15
  • Ray Christian

ROTC’s first commissioned black woman

After graduating from Appalachian in 1978, Edna W. Cummings embarked on a distinguished career in the U.S. Army. The first commissioned African-American female ROTC graduate at Appalachian, Cummings rose through the military ranks to that of colonel, retiring in 2003.

She remains involved with Appalachian, having been named to a four-year term as a member of the Appalachian State University Foundation Board of Directors in fall 2014.

Cummings earned a Master of Strategic Studies degree from the Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, in 2001 and a Master of Science degree in foundations of education from Troy State University in Alabama in 1981. She also graduated from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College in 1988.

During her military career, Cummings served in key roles in homeland defense including staff officer, chief of emergency operations and deputy program manager at the Pentagon, and reserve forces advisor with the U.S. Northern Command/North American Aerospace Defense in Colorado.

Cummings is president and CEO of Cummings & Cummings LLC Management and Proposal Consulting Services, and senior director of operations at Manufacturing Engineering Systems Inc. in Rockville, Maryland, a prime contractor for the U.S. Army’s Continuing Education System.

She is a volunteer with the Mediation and Conflict Resolution Center at Howard Community College and a member of the Association of the U.S. Army’s Maryland chapter.

Cummings also is regional coordinator and a board member of Appalachian’s African-American Alumni Association in the Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia region.