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Record number of cadets earn scholarships

An achievement unprecedented in the history of the JROTC Program at Greenville High School has taken place this spring.

Not one, not two, not three, but four of the program’s cadets have earned U.S. Army scholarships.

Cadet First Lt. Ruth Anne Nimmer; Cadet Major Jaylah Luster; Cadet Lt. Col. Riley Boutwell and Cadet Major Emily Davis are the outstanding quartet of cadets who were among JROTC members nationwide vying for the scholarships. Each of the scholarship winners will receive full tuition coverage for at least three years, up to $2,000 yearly for books and lab fees and a $500 per month living allowance for each school year. All told, each scholarship is valued at more than $90,000.

“We are so, so excited about this accomplishment by these cadets. It’s an extremely competitive process, with many thousands of cadets competing for hundreds of scholarships,” said Col. Alan Hester of the GHS JROTC Program. “These four cadets are truly a great asset to our school, our community and this program.”

According to Hester, three of the cadets—Nimmer, Boutwell and Davis—were selected in March 2021 by the National Board in Washington, D.C.

Nimmer has chosen to use her scholarship at Troy University where she will serve as a part of Mustang Battalion, and plans to major in criminal justice.

“Although I have only spent about a year in JROTC, I have gained so much in being a part of this program,” Nimmer said. “I have become so much more confident in my leadership skills. JROTC has made me a much harder worker, through practicing day in and day out and working to improve my abilities in drill and rifle. I’ve been impressed with all the things I have been able to accomplish.”

Boutwell plans to attend Auburn University and study aerospace engineering. He is set to enroll in the War Eagle ROTC Program on campus there.

“JROTC has really challenged me to get out and learn new things—how to drill, how to be self-disciplined. As I have risen in the ranks, I have learned how challenging it can be to teach others to learn the same things,” Boutwell said.

Davis will use her ROTC scholarship at the University of Arizona where she plans to pursue a degree in integrated music studies.

“My greatest challenge during my JROTC career has been striving to live up to the standards of all those cadets who have gone before me and to continue the legacy that so well represents our school and community,” Davis said.

The fourth cadet to earn a full military scholarship, Jaylah Luster, so excelled during her interview with the AUM-Troy Mustang Battalion  leadership that she was awarded a campus-based scholarship, which she will use at Troy University to pursue a degree in theater.

“It has truly been a challenge to juggle everything with JROTC with schoolwork and other activities. And just being myself and talking in front of people is not my favorite thing—but I prepared for my interview and it paid off for me,” Luster said.

All four of the cadets faced big challenges: adapting to changes to rules and regulations imposed by COVID-19, preparing for interviews, composing essays, passing fitness tests and putting together their portfolios, knowing that they faced fierce competition across the nation.

“To have all four of these cadets selected is exciting and gratifying,” Hester said. “In my six years as the senior Army instructor, we have never had more than two scholarship winners in any given year.”

Following college graduation, each of the cadets will be commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army (Active), Army Reserve or National Guard. The starting salary for commissioned officers is $41,000 per year.

The four cadets were chosen based on the “Whole Person” concept that measures candidates’ ability in three areas: Scholastic Excellence, Athletic Achievement and Leadership Potential.

“These four cadets are all extremely worthy and will make excellent senior ROTC cadets and, ultimately, Army officers,” said Hester. “All four are extremely involved in their school and community, participating in a wide range of activities from the Tiger Pride Band to varsity sports, and all four are vital parts of our ROTC Battalion.”

Nimmer, Boutwell, Lester and Davis, who will all be part of the GHS JROTC Drill Team competing at the U.S. Army National Championships in Daytona Beach, Fla. in early May, hope to bring back more accolades for GHS’s JROTC program.