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Three outstanding students from the Jefferson County High School class of 2017 have been awarded ROTC Scholarships to attend college. The ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps) has prepared these students to serve their country while gaining the knowledge and skills necessary to be commissioned as Army officers.
After graduating from college, Alyse Perdue, Xavier Rodriguez and Stone Stephens will automatically be commissioned second lieutenants and begin eight years of military service.
Perdue has only been in ROTC for two years, but her service has been sufficiently outstanding to make her company commander, and to be awarded an ROTC scholarship for her essay about leadership.
Her scholarships pays for four years tuition to the University of Tennessee where she will study Civil Engineering. “I fell in love with the UT campus, and with the engineering program. I like designing stuff,” said Alyse.
There is a requirement in the scholarship for the student to at least participate in intermural athletics. Alyse has run cross-country and was on the rifle team, so physical activity is not new to her. Laughingly, she says she will take part in the “ultimate frisbee” team.
Alyse admits that before ROTC she was quite shy, but becoming company commander required her to speak, a lot. “When I’m in ROTC, I’m not at all shy,” smiled Alyse.
She is anxious to start classes at UT, and excited about living on campus. The idea that when she graduates she will have to serve eight years in the military does not discourage her. She has enjoyed being part of ROTC, and expects to perform military service.
Alyse expressed her thanks to Colonel Stephens, Sergeant Sims and all her friends and family “for helping me become the person I am today.”
Rodriguez has wanted to be in the military since he was in seventh grade. Most of his favorite subjects have included military history, and heroes like George Washington, who helped free America from British rule during the Revolutionary War.
For this reason, Xavier chose Virginia Military Institute, located in Lexington, Virginia, a four-year undergraduate college founded in 1839. At VMI he hopes to learn additional history and leadership skills that will prepare him for military service.
“I hope to be an outstanding officer,” said Xaviar. “That would be amazing.”
Xaviar’s parents, Charles and Shirley Saylor are proud that he was awarded the scholarship, and impressed by how the JROTC has helped him overcome his shyness. He still speaks softly, but smiles readily and is anxious to start classes at VMI. He will enter school as a private.
“Privates are called rats,” Xaviar chuckled. “You have to stay physically fit and do well in academics but mainly your first year is to get educated and learn your place,” he concluded.
The military was almost a “given” for Stephens, as it probably will be for his two younger brothers, Cody and Lowell, as well. Their dad is Colonel Gregory Stephens, the ROTC instructor at JCHS.
Like his father, Stone will attend West Point, the most prestigious military academy in the United States.
General George Washington considered West Point to be the most important strategic position in America after his war for independence was fought and won, and so the General transferred his headquarters to West Point in 1779.
West Point is the oldest continuously occupied military post in America. President Thomas Jefferson signed legislation establishing West Point as the United States Military Academy in 1802.
Stone will enter West Point as a “Plebe” (plebian – characteristic of the lower class). He will participate in West Point’s basic and leadership training, while enduring his first year of hard work learning to be a cadet. There will be many rules and protocols to follow, but Stone feels like his JROTC training has helped him prepare to do well.
“I am definitely excited,” he said. “It’s a big commitment, but I’ve always been leaning in that direction.”
Stone is grateful for his Jefferson County High School experience. He says he has enjoyed it and it has given him a sound foundation in education and prepared him well for whatever lies ahead. He’s anxious to get started on his military life. Right now he sees himself devoting the next 20 years to the military, but at the moment, he’s not concerned about advancement. Stone loves his country and just wants to serve.