Recognizing JROTC students for Memorial Day

By Harry Snyder - Guest Columnist

Memorial Day has focused our attention on those who sacrificed all in service to our country. It’s also a reminder to be grateful throughout the year for those who serve.

As the father of a serviceman and grandson of a WWII veteran, I have a special place in my heart for the brave men and women in the military. And, at Great Oaks I see that service attitude among students every day.

More than a hundred of our students are involved in JROTC programs at Diamond Oaks, Live Oaks and Laurel Oaks. These programs build future military and civilian leaders and teach personal responsibility, teamwork and self-discipline. JROTC students also learn citizenship, health and wellness, cultural awareness and global history. They participate in regional and national competitions and leadership training. Great Oaks JROTC Color Guard teams are a familiar sight throughout the community.

Several of these young men and women have already experienced success. Ashley Jeffers of the Live Oaks Veterinary Assisting program and Clermont Northeastern and Alex Willertz of Winton Woods and the Scarlet Oaks Engineering Technology and Robotics program have both earned full college scholarships this year.

Ashley Jeffers, a two-year JROTC cadet, will study biology at Xavier University. “I never considered JROTC until I saw a presentation about it as a junior and saw the activities they do.” Specifically, she became interested in the Raider competition, a series of physical and mental challenges designed to build determination and self-confidence. Jeffers said that joining JROTC was life-changing. “I was shy and quiet all my life, but within a couple of months I had been named a squad leader.” Now, as a top student, she receives a full four-year scholarship from Xavier University and the U.S. Army, and is planning a career in the military.

Alex Willertz will attend the Illinois Institute of Technology. Willertz originally applied for the Navy ROTC Scholarship Program. His application, though, was among the 1% chosen for a more direct—but more difficult—scholarship review process, the Immediate Scholarship Reservation or ISR. As an ISR candidate, he had to pass an interview with Ohio’s Navy Recruiting Commanding Officer. “Alexander was required to have higher scores and a better resume than a regular applicant for an ISR interview,” said Scarlet Oaks Naval Science Instructor Senior Chief David McDermott, USN, (Ret). In college, he’ll spend four years in the school’s Navy ROTC program and at graduation will be commissioned as a Naval Officer.

We’re proud of Ashley and Alex as well as all of the young men and women across our community who chose the ultimate service to the public and to our country. We’re grateful for you.

Harry Snyder is the president/CEO of Great Oaks Career Campuses.

By Harry Snyder

Guest Columnist