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KDHS grad shares ROTC experience with high school cadets

For Immediate Release — January 15, 2013 | Pacific
: KDHS senior

OKINAWA, JAPAN — January 15, 2013 — What college program will pay a student $500 dollars a month and eliminate their college debt? Kadena High School alumnus Tyler Nicholson’s ROTC scholarship at the University of Texas at San Antonio does exactly that. On January 7th, Nicholson, a 2009 graduate who was also enrolled in the KDHS JROTC program while he was in high school, returned to talk about his college experience to current JROTC students.

“The college ROTC program will pay for your college provided that you enlist for certain number of years after graduation,” Nicholson said.  For many students who attend college and worry about being jobless after graduation, ROTC provides the security of having a job waiting after college.  

Nicholson, Tyler

Tyler Nicholson speaks to the class.
Photo (taken by Roxanne Roman)

In order for a cadet to be competitive in ROTC, Nicholson provided five pieces of wisdom for students to follow, “One: grades are number one- make sure you keep your grades up; ROTC cadets are required to graduate in four years. Two:  Volunteer. Three: don’t be stupid. Don’t get caught being stupid. Four: excel in PT; your personal fitness is your own responsibility. Five:  go for a commander’s ranking, be a leader.” Nicholson, who has a pilot slot waiting for him after he graduates in May, followed this advice and has the proof that it has led him to success. “You have to make yourself shine. Not by stepping on other people, but by bringing yourself up,” he advised. 

College students can join ROTC until the spring semester of their sophomore year. However, according to Nicholson, the best way to maximize the experience is to join as a freshman when cadets will be less scrutinized, significantly more prepared and more likely to get the positions they want after graduation.

“I really liked his enthusiasm; it seemed like he really wanted to tell us about ROTC because that program has helped him fulfill his dreams.  It gave us something to look forward to,” said senior Montana Smith, who has been accepted into the ROTC program at the University of Oregon for next fall.  

Kadena JROTC Instructor SMSgt. (RET) David Weissgerber also appreciated the visit from Nicholson.  Weissgerber said, “I have watched Tyler grow over the past eight years.  He started out as a rather normal, ‘testing the waters’ young high school student.  He has come back to my classroom the past two winter breaks to speak to my students.  I find it amazing how much he has grown, physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially in such a short period of time.  I see a bright future ahead for him and I wish him well.

ROTC allows a student to experience college and get a sampling of the military at the same time. For students who are unsure about joining the military, it is a helpful introduction. For students worried about paying for college, an ROTC scholarship may be the solution. For students who seek job security after graduation, ROTC could be the answer. For cadet Tyler Nicholson, it proved to be a valuable experience and the right choice for him. He hopes that students will be open to possibility of ROTC and discover if it could also be their best option.

Tyler Nicholson

Tyler Nicholson, who graduated from Kadena High School in 2009, returned to talk to current students about his experience with ROTC at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Photo (taken by Roxanne Roman)

About DoDEA Pacific:

The first organized schools for the children of U.S. military personnel serving in the Pacific were established in 1946 during post-World War II reconstruction. Throughout the decades, DoD schools evolved to become a comprehensive and high-performing K-12 school system solely dedicated to educating the children of America's heroes. Today, DoDEA Pacific's 49 schools serve over 23,500 children of U.S. military and eligible DoD civilian personnel families stationed throughout the Pacific theater. The DoDEA Pacific teaching, administrative and school support team includes more than 3,300 full-time professionals. The schools are geographically organized into four districts: Guam, Japan, Okinawa and South Korea.

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