My story, as with many others, did not start with high school JROTC. This is just the midway point on my way to a brighter future. I have had so many doors closed in my life, and JROTC has given me the keys to open these doors on my own.
It did not start in high school; coming from a broken home, I went to five different elementary schools, and was beaten up and bullied almost every day. Eventually I gave up on school and myself, so my mother gave up on me and shipped me off to my father when I began middle school. Being a former Marine, he was tough from day one, putting me on the path of becoming not just a man, but a leader. While life in middle school was better, it wasn't until I joined JROTC in high school that things finally came into focus for me.
I fell in love with JROTC because it is a place where I am surrounded by friends; not just good friends but wonderful people who respected me for whom I am. JROTC taught me how to be a leader, and just as importantly, how to be a good follower. I've learned that if I show people the values that I have, such as respect, service, loyalty, friendship and courage, they will respond in similar fashion.
Now when I go out with my friends, I don't concentrate on people staring at me or worrying about being bullied or beaten up. I've learned that my fellow cadets are people who I can rely on in order to be successful in both school and life. Most importantly, JROTC has given me the keys to unlock my future and to allow me to be all I can possibly be.
When I first came to JROTC, I wasn’t sure what to expect. One can say I went into the program kicking and screaming, having just been let go from the basketball team. But I was able to learn more about teamwork and leadership than I ever had in two years of being on a sports team.
JROTC is unique because it uses a clear chain of command that consists of the students themselves. The fact that the organization is cadet-run is great...