Every year the Marco Island Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) singles out outstanding Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (JROTC) cadets for recognition. And every year the members are newly impressed with the achievements of the students and the program that inspires them to excel.
This year, the DAR invited two cadets and their Senior Army Instructor to its March 15th meeting at the Emerald Beach Condominium.
Cadet 1st. Lt. Hector Rojas told the DAR that because of three years in JROTC, “my life has done a complete 180 degree turn.”
Hector wants to graduate college and to become a career Army officer. He is both practical and philosophical about his future.
“One has to start now because every choice or opportunity you either let go or claim as yours can decide where you will be 30 years from now.”
Hector was named Superior Cadet his freshman year now is a company commander responsible for 40 cadets. He also commands the Commander of the Armed Regulation (Drill) Squad that is headed to state competition in Lakeland.
Cadet 2nd. Lt. Roshanda Bresier-Pierre said that she will be the first person in her family to go to college, because of JROTC.
“It taught me that I hold the key to my future. I want to be a pediatrician. My dream is to be paged by the hospital because they need me to help a child.”
Roshanda plays the saxophone in the band, plays basketball, runs track and field, is Vice President of her class, takes high school and college level classes, is in the Foreign Language Society and she volunteers at NCH.
“When I first entered JROTC, I certainly did not know what I was getting myself into. And for a man like Chief Harp to see something in me and want me to stay in the program, if that isn’t God working, I don’t know what is.”
Chief Warrant Officer Grade 4 (Ret.) Michael A. Harp has been the JROTC Senior Army Instructor at Lely High School since 2009. He brought a wealth of experience to his leadership role. He earned dozens of awards and medals during an exemplary 27 year military career, which included two tours of duty in Iraq.
“Chief”, as his cadets call him, built on the program’s successes and made some changes. He limited the cadet corps to 175, down from the 240 or so from past years to allow for more intense focus on the students and the program goals.
“Our program is designed to give the cadets a sense of belonging; something to be proud of. We promote qualities of self-esteem and self-confidence in our cadets. We require that our cadets take responsibility for their actions and show respect for their country and authority figures. Statistics prove our program works.
“We currently have former cadets at each of the military academies and we average over $750,000 in scholarship offers each year for our four-year cadets. We are foremost a ‘stay in school’ program designed to stress the importance of education for your children.”
Cadets Bresier-Pierre and Rojas will receive DAR citizenship medals and scholarship money at a May 15th Awards ceremony at Lely.
For JROTC details, visit: www.lelyjrotc.net.
For information about Marco’s DAR, call Kay Zeigler at (239) 642-0711.