JROTC cadets each earn $200k scholarships
LVN Editor Emeritus
Two Churchill County High School Junior ROTC students have each received $200,000 college scholarships to the universities of their choice.
Cmdr. Almond Smith, commander of the U.S. Navy Talent Acquisition Group (NTAG) in Portland, Ore., recognized Fallon seniors and Natalie Carrero and Jade Beland before their fellow cadets at the CCHS auditorium. Carrero is this year’s JROTC commanding officer, and Beland is serving as the executive officer.
“The top students from across the nation apply to this scholarship program and ROTC,” Smith said.
The 32-year Navy veteran, who also started his career in a JROTC program in Texas, said the Navy looks for successful students are have demonstrated leadership and athletic skills and achieved academic excellence. He said the scholarships may be used at any university that offers Navy ROTC. NTAG Portland includes naval officers, enlisted sailors and civilian personnel operating in a 270,000 square-mile territory. It’s the fourth largest district encompassing all of Oregon and large parts of California, Idaho, Nevada and Washington.
Smith said it’s rare when both the unit’s commander and executive office receive scholarships in the same year. He interviewed Carrero and Beland earlier in the year.
“They show a great propensity to go on and do many great things,” he added.
Smith also praised the CCHS program and cadets.
“Your team here has done such a great job, and a lot of their ability to lad is reflective of the folks that you have here and that have supported them,” he said, adding the program leads to successful leaders
Each year, Smith said more than 25,000 students apply, but a small number of students receive scholarships. Additionally, he said if students are gifted in science and math and interested in the Navy’s nuclear program during their junior and senior years, they may receive additional scholarship funding.
Retired Capt. Robert Kerman, the programs senior naval science instructor, said Carrero and Beland are well respected by the cadets.
“We have a lot or bright kids in our program,” Kerman said. “This is the first time we’ve had two, that I can remember, who received scholarships at the same time. Both are achievers who do a lot of extra studying and take many highly academic classes. They work well together, and both are excellent leaders and get things done.”
Carrero said the financial aid will assist her at the university level no matter where she goes.
“It doesn’t make any difference as long as I get my education,” she said. “I want to major in engineering and become a nuclear engineer in the Navy.”
Beland, who enters her fourth year of JROTC, said she’s found a home with the program. The Fallon senior said she’s interested in computer science and the nuclear program.
Although both cadets haven’t pinned down a university they would like to attend, Kerman said both students have expressed an interest in attending Carnegie Mellon University, a private research university in Pittsburgh, Pa.
Both students also gave credit to retired Chief Petty Officer Keith Bryska, assistant naval science instructor.
“He’s been a huge support for Natalie and me,” Beland said. “He always balances out our officer side in NJROTC with our enlisted side.”
Likewise, he said they have made an impact with the program and instructors.
“They were part of my first freshman class when I started working here,” he said. “It has been an honor to have them in our unit and I know they will make our school and community proud.
“I think they have been a big influence not only in the unit, but on me as well. Not only have they been my right-hand cadets, but they have made an tremendous impact on my life. It will be a sad day for me when they leave, but I know they will be successful.”