Prior to the Garfield High School Army JROTC annual awards ceremony on May 20, 2022, LET 3 and 4 cadets were encouraged to relay their JROTC experience in an essay writing contest. The theme “My Years in JROTC Explained,” allowed cadets to not only share their experiences but also as leave encouraging words to their underclassmen.
The winner would read their winning essay as a guest speaker during the 78th Annual Dawg Show Awards. This essay was an opportunity to convey facts and describe the benefits of being a JROTC cadet to our guest sponsors, parents, and other members of the Garfield High School Battalion.
Our official winner was C/MAJ Jennifer Hurtado, the Battalion’s Executive Officer, and here are her JROTC years, explained:
My name is Jennifer Hurtado, I’m the Battalion Executive Officer at Garfield H.S and a graduating senior. As a senior, I’ve often reflected on my actions and choices in my four years of high school. During my freshman year, I recall being timid and having a hard time adjusting to my new environment. A turning point in my high school career that changed me was the P.E presentation for JROTC. During the P.E presentation, I was recruited by my previous JROTC seniors. The presentation gave an overview of the various benefits the program had to offer which I was interested in. Although, I must admit I wouldn’t have been able to gather enough courage to go sign up if it weren’t for my friend who signed up as well. After a few weeks of signing the form, my counselor called me in to confirm if I wanted to join the program. From that point on, I was officially a JROTC cadet in the Mighty Bulldog Battalion.
There were times I’ve considered quitting the program to participate in other extracurricular activities instead. My reasons for staying in the program, however, aren’t much different than what was stated during the presentation. The program provided a variety of benefits such as community service experiences, leadership training, and scholarship opportunities. In addition, to the annual JROTC military ball and camp. Unfortunately, those two activities were canceled this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. I did, however, attend military ball my freshman year of high school which was one of the best experiences I had since joining the program. I highly encourage those who wish to stay next year to attend both these activities. It’s a great opportunity to socialize with other students from different schools while also having fun with your friends. If I had the chance to do it all over again I would have definitely tried going to camp. As a senior, I’ve also come to realize the importance of having participated in the events provided by the JROTC program. It not only looks great on your resume but also in your college applications and scholarships. One of the scholarships I received this year was provided through the JROTC program. It was the Wounded Warrior Family Support scholarship for 6,250 dollars.
The JROTC program not only provides these benefits but gives a variety of life lessons as well. For example, the saying “dress to impress” can be applied to the uniform guidelines we strictly follow. The transition from a clean appearance can be beneficial in a job interview. Another life experience I learned in JROTC is time management and setting up SMART goals. One of our daily quotes is about Parkinson’s Law which states that people will only work in the time allotted to them. I find this quote to be held true because I’ve experienced it first-hand. I’ve learned to change my habit of procrastinating by acknowledging that I have a problem with managing my time and working toward finding a solution. This incorporates the problem-solving skills and Winning Colors I learned as well. After some trial and error, I’ve found that having reminders on my phone as alarms and notes helped me the most in sticking through a schedule whether it be a workout, academic or extracurricular. As for setting up SMART goals, I found it easier to manage my progress in my academics and workout plans. I think most of us don’t realize the importance of the things taught in JROTC until it’s too late.
My advice to those who struggle with time management is to implement a SMART goal and use the things taught in JROTC to come up with solutions. As for those who are interested in joining or remaining STAFF next year, I would advise you the same thing: learn to manage your time well. JROTC is not a hard extracurricular activity to manage unless you make it so. You're the one setting yourself up for either success or failure. My goal for this year is to leave behind my knowledge and experiences about JROTC in hopes that the next generation will keep the program running and give back to the community. My plans after high school, however, are to attend Cal State Long Beach and work toward getting a bachelor's degree in Math Education to become a math teacher.
To conclude, I would like to say that anyone can become somebody if you put in the hard work. I was just like you when I first started in the program as a Cadet Private and worked my way up to Cadet Major to my position as Executive Officer. If I were to say what’s the accomplishment I’m most proud of during my time in JROTC, it is not my rank but rather the coat I’m wearing right now. It is a representation of not only my achievement in JROTC but also my contribution to my community. It is also the very reason why I decided to become a part of STAFF in the first place and got me into the position I am in today.