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Sizable Scholarship Awarded by Naval ROTC

Submitted by Ed Munster
(June 14, 2024) — At the Haddam-Killingworth High School Scholarship Award program on June 3, 2024, the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC) Scholarship was one of the largest scholarships ($180,000) awarded that evening.
                                                                                        The scholarship was presented by Captain Benjamin Wallace and Sergeant Ricardo Sanchez to Andres Montes, who will be attending Drexel University.
                                                                                                                                                                                The award involves a highly competitive, national selection process and provides full tuition for all four years to the student’s college of choice.

The first step in the process is the potential applicant having the will and desire to become a Marine Corps Officer during their senior year of high school. This is not an easy step, as most high schoolers are thinking about college or their first job, not what they will accomplish and earn when they are finished with college. The applicant needs a certain SAT, ACT, or ASVAB score, must be physically fit, have good grades in school, and have the dedication to take on the rest of the process.

Secondly, they complete an online application on a website called NETFOCUS. This website is old and not very user friendly, and it often crashes mid-application, which loses unsaved work. This definitely challenges the applicant in making sure they are dedicated! This process takes at least two or three hours, and includes two short essays.


Third, the applicant meets with the local Recruiting Station Executive Officer (XO), who runs the NROTC program for the area, in this case, Captain Wallace. The XO completes additional paperwork with the applicant, and completes an “Officer Interview” where the XO goes through a 45 minute interview on why the applicant believes that they are a good candidate for the scholarship. This is where the student shows their intangibles, and where the experiences the applicant has had in their life can show why they have what it takes to be a Marine Officer in the future. These Officer Interviews are usually relatively intense, as this is a great way for the XO to separate who is a great candidate, versus an average candidate.


Fourth, the applicant runs a Physical Fitness Test, which involves a maximum set of pullups, a maximum plank, and a timed three-mile run. The applicant runs the same physical fitness test that active duty Marines run, which is very challenging, but shows how physically fit the applicant is.


Lastly, is the board. This is where, on paper, based on all of the previous steps combined, the XO briefs his applicants against the other applicants that he has and against all the applicants in their district. This district’s area is from Washington D.C. to the northern tip of Maine. There were more than two hundred applicants who made the board, and were competing for a certain number of scholarships.


Andres Montes went up against those applicants and, based on his education, SAT score, Physical Fitness Test, and Officer interviews, was near the top of all of those applicants. He won the scholarship, which will guarantee him free tuition for all four years of college, admission to be a Midshipman in the college’s NROTC unit, and the opportunity to become a United States Marine Corps Officer right after college.


Photo by Judy Munster

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