DANDRIDGE, TN -- Recently, I received the Legion of Valor Bronze Cross for Achievement that is awarded to 80 out of 470,000 JROTC Cadets across the nation. It was an honor to receive the award and I am very grateful that I had the opportunity to earn it. Behind the award is my four-year Army JROTC experience, countless hours of work, and the challenges I had to endure.
Coming into the JROTC program my freshman year, I did not know what I was getting myself into even though I had two brothers that were in the program. I was shy and did not have a lot of self-confidence, but luckily JROTC was able to mold me into a leader. As I moved up in rank and gained leadership roles, I was forced to come out of my shell to take charge. I was taught the Army Values and tried to carry them out every day as I lead my subordinates. I think one of the most important things I learned in JROTC is to do the little things right because that will set you up for success. I always made sure the measurements on my uniform were correct and had a clean shave and haircut. I understood that if you cannot do the things that do not take a lot of time and effort then you will not be successful in the big things.
My father served in the Army for 22 years and attended the United States Military Academy in the class of 93’, and my two brothers are currently Cadets at the academy. At the start of high school, I became interested in the academy and I knew that I needed to push myself in order to meet the rigorous standards that USMA sets. At my high school I am a member of the tennis and cross-country teams, student government, National Honor Society, Beta Club, and Mu Alpha Theta. I am also the captain of our JROTC program’s robotics, rifle, and academic teams. Additionally, I took as many AP and honors classes as I could to push myself academically. Because of all the clubs, teams, and classes I am involved in, I have spent many hours working before and after school and have had days where I had little to no free time. It was tough and it took a lot of patience, but I can say that joining all these programs was worth it and has it has helped me to grow as a person and as a leader.
One of the challenges that I faced during my high school career was when I did not make the school’s basketball team during my sophomore year. I loved playing basketball and I was crushed when I was cut from the team. Rather than feeling sorry for myself though, I used it as motivation to accomplish other things and I joined the tennis team where I worked my way up to the number three ranked player. In JROTC, we are taught the Warrior Ethos and I tried to embrace it after I was cut. I know that I am not the smartest or most athletic at my school, but I worked extremely hard to be where I am at today.
I am grateful for all the opportunities that I was given for me to receive the Legion of Valor and am especially thankful for JROTC. As I am nearing the end of my last JROTC semester, I know that I will continue to use things JROTC has taught me for the rest of my life. If I had to give advice to anyone reading this essay, it would be to push yourself as much as you can and to give your best effort in all that you do.