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Jacob Oelmann

1215

Bold Points

1x

Finalist

Bio

Pursuing a degree in Criminology and aspiring to commission into the Army as an aviation officer. I love to volunteer, having done 400+ hours with my local sheriff's office and volunteered internationally in Thailand and Laos teaching English and sustainable agriculture in remote villages for a month.

Education

University of South Florida-Main Campus

Bachelor's degree program
2022 - 2027
  • Majors:
    • Criminology
  • Minors:
    • Military Applied Sciences
    • Homeland Security

University of South Florida-Main Campus

High School
2018 - 2022
  • Majors:
    • Criminology

Miscellaneous

  • Desired degree level:

    Bachelor's degree program

  • Graduate schools of interest:

  • Transfer schools of interest:

  • Majors of interest:

  • Not planning to go to medical school
  • Career

    • Dream career field:

      Military

    • Dream career goals:

      Medical Evacuation Pilot

    • Lifeguard

      Seaworld
      2022 – 20231 year
    • Investigative Aide

      Florida Division of Tobacco and Alcohol
      2021 – 20221 year
    • Shift Leader

      Auntie Anne's
      2020 – 20222 years

    Sports

    Academic Bowl & JLAB

    Club
    2020 – 20222 years

    Awards

    • Captain

    Drill & Ceremony

    Club
    2021 – 20221 year

    Awards

    • Captain
    • State Finalists

    Track & Field

    Varsity
    2020 – 20211 year

    Marksmanship

    Varsity
    2018 – 20202 years

    Raiders

    Varsity
    2018 – 20224 years

    Awards

    • Captain

    Arts

    • Personal

      Carpentry
      Various types of clocks in my unique style
      2019 – 2021

    Public services

    • Volunteering

      GiveVolunteers — Volunteer
      2022 – 2023
    • Volunteering

      Fire Cadet — Cadet
      2020 – 2022
    • Volunteering

      Sheriff Office Explorer — Volunteer
      2019 – 2022

    Future Interests

    Volunteering

    Financial Literacy Scholarship Award
    Financial literacy is a vital skill to possess in the modern world with all its complexities. We as young people have many financial hurdles we have to overcome to become financially stable due to the state of the economy at the moment. With inflation soaring, housing prices skyrocketing, piles of student loans, and income remaining relatively the same, we have to set ourselves up the best we can by developing these skills to overcome the odds. Some of the best money lessons I’ve learned are money management, budgeting, investing, saving, and debt management. I learned early on from my dad how to manage money by giving me very limited amounts of money for good grades, which taught me how to make the most out of small amounts of income. You have to prioritize your needs from your wants to make it last. I learned budgeting from a mentor of mine in high school, who taught me how to break down all my expenses and what percentages I should dedicate to each area to maximize my financial stability for the future. My father also taught me how to invest my money by using things like Roth IRAs to secure my future after retirement, as money just sitting in your account is losing value due to inflation. You should instead use your money to make money to stay ahead of inflation and even profit from it. Saving is a big part of financial literacy as acquiring a car and buying a house are two musts in the modern world. Owning your house rather than renting can result in you profiting while you live rather than just being at a constant loss. Additionally, the way that the United States infrastructure is structured, it is impossible to get to school or work without transportation. My area doesn’t have the best public transport either, so I had no choice but to save up for my car. The key to saving is by living below your means. Just because you make 2,000 a month, doesn’t mean you should be spending 2,000 a month. As a college student, debt management is critical, as you need to understand the interest rates and risks included in taking on debt, and learning how to pay it off in a way that minimizes interest and time. The way you do that is by paying off one debt at a time, and then rolling those payments into the next debt so it snowballs until it is all paid off.
    Mental Health Importance Scholarship
    Mental health is extremely important as to perform to the top of your abilities, all pillars must be in place. That means physical, mental, and spiritual health have to be monitored. I found that when I am in a good mental state I become far more productive and perform at a higher level. Emotional well-being is accompanied by positive emotions, which allows me to navigate life’s challenges. Lastly, ensuring my mental health is good results in my overall quality of life being more satisfying and fulfilling. Maintaining my mental health is a laborious task, as I find that I tend to see the worst in things in life. However, over time I have developed strategies to keep that in check and still live a fulfilling life. Exercise is a huge part of my life, and I find most of my mental problems can be solved with just a simple hike through nature going on a run or weightlifting any of my frustration out. I also have built a support structure of friends and family who can help give me advice or allow me to vent whenever I am going through mental difficulties. I occasionally practice meditation, as it silences my mind which is usually working overtime. I find it keeps me present in the motion, and less focused on worrying about the future as my mind likes to do. Having a sense of purpose in life is possibly the largest factor that goes into my mental health. I am someone who needs to feel like they are contributing to the greater good and serving others, hence why I am pursuing a career in law enforcement and the Army. This sense of purpose and direction keeps me grounded in my goals and prevents me from feeling like I'm useless or unworthy of things. This is an area I struggled with extensively in my early teenage years, and it caused immense amounts of negative emotions. However, I have not had to deal with these problems since I discovered my purpose. Relationships are also a big factor in my mental health. I used to feel extremely lonely and undeserving of love because I had never found someone who had loved me. My family life was never the best, and I never found success in romantic situations. However, upon finding that purpose in the Army, I ended up finding an extremely tight group of friends that became a brotherhood. This brotherhood built my confidence and gave me a sense of belonging. This brotherhood also ironically led to me meeting my current girlfriend, as she also shares my purpose in life of serving others through the armed forces. She alongside my friends has been incredible for my mental health as I know I always have people to rely on.
    1989 (Taylor's Version) Fan Scholarship
    Early 2023, I was at my absolute peak, so naturally the soundtrack is going to start with Wildest Dreams as the first song. I had gotten accepted into my dream school, I created my first love story with my girlfriend, and I had big aspirations coming into the rest of the year. This song embarrassed the excitement and anticipation that I had up until June. The lyrics “Say you’ll remember me, standing in a nice dress, staring at the sunset, babe” practically perfectly described the day I had left for Basic Training, saying goodbye to my girlfriend, which was humorously on our first month anniversary. I certainly did a lot of remembering of her throughout basic training, rereading all her letters hundreds of times when I was supposed to be sleeping. By the middle of 2023, life had thrown me a huge curveball, resulting in me having to pick up the pieces and get back on my feet, which is why Shake It Off would be the next song. I tore my ACL on the final week of basic training at that dream school, West Point, resulting in me getting kicked out for medical reasons. I was crushed, crippled, and a little bit lost. Shake it off is an undoubtable anthem of resilience and self-empowerment. Despite the loss, I got back at it, working through physical therapy to rebuild my leg, making a new plan to attend my current university succeeding regardless of this setback, and dealing with the emotional toll the entire process took on me. The lyrics “I make the moves up as I go” hit hard considering the huge pivot I made in life. For the end of 2023, I chose Clean as it is a song of renewal and transformation. It signifies leaving the past behind and moving forward with a sense of clarity. That is exactly my intent at the end of this year, to keep building up the strength in my knee, healing the emotional damage with the help of my family and my girlfriend, and leaving the broken dream behind to build my new dream of building a life for myself and future family. “When the flowers that we’d grown together died of thirst, the rain came pouring down, when I was drowning, that’s when I could finally breathe” perfectly describes this period of my life. Despite the dream dying, and hardship pouring down, I discovered a new dream.
    RonranGlee Literary Scholarship
    Philosophy: Perception vs Reality - Plato’s “The Republic” - The Allegory of the Cave: "Imagine prisoners in a cave, with their legs and necks chained so that they can only see the wall in front of them. They have been in this position since childhood, and they can only see the shadows cast on the cave wall by objects behind them. If one of these prisoners were freed and brought into the sunlight, he would be blinded at first, but gradually he would come to see the world outside the cave and realize that the shadows were mere illusions." The Allegory of the Cave is a profound metaphorical narrative that encapsulates his understanding of human perception, and the nature of reality. The central thesis revolves around the dichotomy of appearances versus reality. Plato employs powerful imagery to explore the limitations of sensory perception and the true nature of knowledge. At its core, Plato argues that most people live in a world of illusion, mistaking shadows for reality. The cave represents the world the majority of people live in, and how we perceive it through our senses, which Plato suggests is a realm of illusion. It symbolizes the limitations of the material world and the reality that most people blindly accept as the only truth. The prisoners represent individuals who are ensnared by the limitations of their senses and the superficial understanding of the world they have gained from their immediate environment. They are living in a state of ignorance, where the shadows on the wall are their version of truth. The process of liberation is where the allegory’s message emerges. If one of these prisoners were to be freed and brought to the sunlight, their initial reaction would be discomfort and blindness. The blinding light of the sun symbolizes the realm of ultimate reality and knowledge, which stands in stark contrast to the limited and deceptive cave shadows. The prisoner’s initial disorientation when faced with this brightness symbolizes the intellectual and spiritual struggle required to transcend the limitations of sensory perception and societal conditioning. Gradually, as new prisoner’s eyes adjust to the brilliance of the sun, they begin to perceive the world outside the cave, which is depicted as forms; unchanging realities that exist beyond the physical world. Plato’s philosophy is that these forms are the highest objects of knowledge. In Plato’s view, the story of the prisoners escaping the cave mirrors his path to enlightenment. The perception issue is that it can look different from various angles. The same object can mean something else to different people depending on numerous factors; their upbringing, beliefs, or goals. Trying to understand the world through only perception can lead to a distorted view of reality. Plato wishes to encourage individuals to seek a deeper understanding and question their perception to get closer to forms. Philosophical inquiry and self-reflection are essential for gaining wisdom and escaping the confines of the cave. Plato’s perception was limited due to the period he lived in and the limited technology. In modern times, we now know that there are a plethora of new worlds that we never knew existed due to a lack of technology. For example, we now know that humans are only able to perceive a limited range of the electromagnetic spectrum, our hearing has a finite range of frequencies, and our sense of touch is relatively coarse. These biological limitations all mean that we as humans are only capable of perceiving a fraction of the information present in the world around us. Additionally, we now know that there is a quantum realm, objects so small that we need exceptionally precise technology to see them. This goes to show that perception is not only through the means of a philosophical sense. Our understanding of the universe and its meaning are also dependent on technological advances. Another limiting factor of perception is how our brains actively filter and prioritize sensory information. We physically cannot pay equal attention to all stimuli simultaneously. This means that our perception is selection, with our brains focusing on certain aspects that we want to perceive. This inherently makes our perception of all physical objects biased as we are essentially seeing what we already want to see. Individuals with neurological and psychological factors will also lead to altered perception, as conditions may lead to hallucinations or distortions. Our brains are also subject to sensory overload, when we are exposed to excessive sensory input for prolonged periods, our senses can become overwhelmed. This can lead to errors in perception as the brain struggles to process and make sense of the information. It is fascinating that Plato was able to understand this concept so far before additional proof of the concept existed. Plato believed that the role of a philosopher is to be the guide for the prisoners into the sunlight. He sees it as a moral obligation to return to the cave and enlighten the others. This highlights the idea that philosophy is not just an academic pursuit, but rather a practice that should guide society towards justice, truth, and wisdom. The allegory remains a timeless and powerful metaphor for contemplating the nature of the human condition.
    Trever David Clark Memorial Scholarship
    When I was six years old, my mother passed away from cancer. At the time, I was too young to understand what that meant, so at the time I was virtually unaffected. But as time passed, I became more aware of how precious life was as I grew and noticed the toll that it took on my father. He is an old-fashioned dude, refusing help from anyone. So he dealt with the loss by nearly working himself to death. What that meant to me and my older brother was that we were left to essentially raise ourselves. Our dad provided and did his best, and this is by no means to say he wasn’t a great father because he was. That is only to say that he dealt with his pain by distracting himself from it by being too tired to stop and process it. By the time I had hit middle school, I had developed depression. I never really had many friends growing up, always sticking to myself, and ended up wasting my life playing video games to escape from the real world. I felt as though I had no one to rely on, as me and my brother have never been that close. Years passed by, and my grades were suffering, never had energy, and this eventually led to suicidal idealization and thoughts. I never sought out help, as I was following the example provided for me, by my father. Tough it out and distract yourself from it was what I perceived the solution to be. So to everyone else, I was just a normal kid, never knowing what I was dealing with. By the 8th grade, the suicidal thoughts became far worse, and while I never committed to an attempt, there were numerous times I had the means and the urge to. Going into high school, I thought I found the solution to my problems, finding a sense of purpose in life. In a weird twisted way, I decided I’d join the Army and die at war so that I wouldn’t have to go out “the cowards' way”. But to join the Army, I had to switch up my entire lifestyle, and somehow this decision pushed me to. I started doing well in school, made friends, got in shape, gained confidence, and by my senior year of high school, I realized I was no longer depressed nor had those thoughts in years. I now wanted to join the Army out of a desire to serve, not a desire to die. A huge distinction. I have personally not had any interactions with the mental health industry as due to my upbringing, I never really sought out help. I had thought about it multiple times throughout this whole journey, however, I feared if I went to professionals and got diagnosed with anything, it could prevent me from joining the army, which would’ve only made my mental health worse. I also am not a fan of the idea of labeling a diagnosis on myself, as that could then be used as an excuse to stay like that. I adopt the mentality that you should take accountability for absolutely everything in life, as that gives you control, even when you don’t perceive the fact that you do. Despite this, everyone’s mind works differently, and everyone will have solutions that may work for them and not others, so I am by no means advocating that my solution is the only one. It is simply the one that works for me, and it took me a very long time to find it.
    Paschal Security Systems Criminal Justice Scholarship
    My educational goals are to obtain a criminology degree with a minor in emergency response and homeland security and to be commissioned into the Army as an aviation officer following graduation through Army ROTC. Ever since I was a kid I knew my #1 priority in life was to serve others, in high school I found my calling in the military through a teacher and mentor of mine who was a retired Colonel. He had helped me develop as a leader, as an athlete, and as an academic. Before discovering my purpose, all I had done was sit in my room and play video games, not caring about what grades I got, what I ate, or my physical health. But he had changed my life, pushing me to become someone worthy of leading soldiers and serving our nation. By my senior year of high school, I was in a leadership position in JROTC in charge of 8,000 cadets, captain of multiple varsity sports teams including Rifle Marksmanship, Raiders, armed, unarmed, and exhibition drill teams, all while maintaining a next-to-perfect GPA, working 30 hours a week to support my family, and volunteering over 400 hours over 2 years as an explorer with my local sheriff’s office, and being a Fire Rescue Cadet at my local station. I also worked with the Florida Division of Tobacco and Alcohol as an investigative Aide for a year to fight underage drinking. Upon getting into college, I joined Army ROTC and quickly became the #2 ranked cadet in my program. Through ROTC, I got connected with a Special Forces Training Group at a nearby base, led by a Navy Seal who quickly became one of my best friends all to prepare me for SERE school upon graduation. The navy seal's name was Kris, and he alongside the LTC had changed my life in every possible way, pushing me to achieve things I never thought I'd be capable of. Alongside Kris I ran my first marathon, just 4 years ago I struggled to even complete a mile. I am always looking for new opportunities that would help me grow and help others in the process. I spent a month volunteering in Thailand and Laos to teach English in remote villages, even though it is not directly related to my profession, I found the experience very rewarding and promoted a lot of growth in myself in terms of compassion and service. During my time volunteering for the Sheriff's Office, I saw the difference that good police can make in a community, and I realized that after I finish serving in the Army, I would be honored to serve locally as well as a deputy. I particularly want to work as a cop in schools so that I can work with kids to help them stay on the right path as they navigate through a confusing and unforgiving world. My community resource officer in school would always play games or crack jokes with us, always a highlight of our day and whatever stresses we had going on back home. Deputy Khan was a huge inspiration to me to pursue my degree in criminology. He showed me that sometimes the greatest impacts happen on the smallest scale. He would always say that power does not always mean influence. The chief of the department may have the greatest power, but he is not always the one changing lives, that happens when boots are on the ground.
    Top Watch Newsletter Movie Fanatics Scholarship
    If I could only watch one movie for the rest of my life, it’d have to be Saving Private Ryan. I’ve already watched this movie well over ten times, couldn’t even tell you the exact number. It has easily been one of the most influential movies that inspired the path I’ve been walking for roughly six years now. Saving Private Ryan is a realistic and gripping depiction of war, the director Steven Spielberg and cinematographer Janusz Kaminski employed innovative filmmaking techniques to recreate the chaos and brutality of World War 2. My favorite scene from the movie is the opening scene, depicting the D-Day landing at Omaha Beach, conveying a visceral experience of battle, while also being cited as one of the most intense and realistic portrayals of combat ever put on screen. The film has an impressive case, led by Tom Hanks as Captain John Miller. Their performances were excellent, conveying the emotional toll of war on soldiers and highlighting the camaraderie among troops. The characters felt like they had actual chemistry due to the depth and authenticity portrayed. The movie primarily tells the story of a single character, not the war as a whole. The central plot revolves around the mission to bring home Private Ryan, whose three brothers were killed in action. That narrative hook provided an emotional core that resonated with viewers. I loved how the film delved into the ethics of war, sacrifice, and the human cost of conflict. It questions the value of a single life versus the well-being of a group. To me, however, it was more than a story. When I first watched this movie, it was at a point in my life where I felt lost and in need of purpose. Watching this movie made me question the nature of sacrifice and selflessness. Prior I only did things because I wanted to, never considering others. This movie put the seed inside of me to instead live a life of purpose, and made me desire that sense of brotherhood depicted in the movie. This film was the first spark that led to me deciding to join the army, which has set the path for the journey I’ve embarked on for the last six years of pursuing a career as an officer and aviator in the Army. I have and could continue to watch this movie endlessly as it's always a favorite when me and my buddies all decide to watch something together. Additionally, no matter how many times I rewatch it, I can still feel the emotion and inspiration from the heroic actions depicted by the characters, who represent actual heroes who fought in those battles. While it may seem like the movie is glorifying war, I perceive it as the opposite. The movie shows a realistic portrayal of the trauma and loss that those soldiers endured, which is important for modern generations to understand as they sacrificed for a better future, the future we are living. War is inevitable due to the nature of humanity and conflict, it takes brave men and women to fight to protect what they love. So to one, it may come across as glorifying, to another it can come across as honoring their sacrifice and inspiring future generations to be strong enough to endure future hardships.
    Michael Valdivia Scholarship
    When I was six years old, my mother passed away from cancer. At the time, I was too young to understand what that meant, so at the time I was virtually unaffected. But as time passed, I became more aware of how precious life was as I grew and noticed the toll that it took on my father. He is an old-fashioned dude, refusing help from anyone. So he dealt with the loss by nearly working himself to death. What that meant to me and my older brother was that we were left to essentially raise ourselves. Our dad provided and did his best, and this is by no means to say he wasn’t a great father because he was. That is only to say that he dealt with his pain by distracting himself from it by being too tired to stop and process it. By the time I had hit middle school, I had developed depression. I never really had many friends growing up, always sticking to myself, and ended up wasting my life playing video games to escape from the real world. I felt as though I had no one to rely on, as me and my brother have never been that close. Years passed by, and my grades were suffering, never had energy, and this eventually led to suicidal idealization and thoughts. I never sought out help, as I was following the example provided for me, by my father. Tough it out and distract yourself from it was what I perceived the solution to be. So to everyone else, I was just a normal kid, never knowing what I was dealing with. By the 8th grade, the suicidal thoughts became far worse, and while I never committed to an attempt, there were numerous times I had the means and the urge to. Going into high school, I thought I found the solution to my problems, finding a sense of purpose in life. In a weird twisted way, I decided I’d join the Army and die at war so that I wouldn’t have to go out “the cowards' way”. But to join the Army, I had to switch up my entire lifestyle, and somehow this decision pushed me to. I started doing well in school, made friends, got in shape, gained confidence, and by my senior year of high school, I realized I was no longer depressed nor had those thoughts in years. I now wanted to join the Army out of a desire to serve and to have that brotherhood, not a desire to die. A huge distinction. While it seemed like I had resolved my depression, in college I realized I had only suppressed it under the disguise of success, as the second hardship arose again, as it always will, I fell back into it after tearing my ACL during basic training at West Point. I had been kicked out of my dream school and I was unable to do my usual physical hobbies like running and hiking for nearly a year because of the damage. I realized I had done the same thing as my father, just drowning myself in work to distract myself. I finally realized that I needed to process and overcome my loss and forgive myself for these perceptions of hatred I had towards myself. After nearly 6 years of battling this, I feel I am finally turning the corner for good, as I now no longer have happiness, a temporary emotion, I feel at peace with myself, a far more meaningful emotion in my opinion.
    Ethel Hayes Destigmatization of Mental Health Scholarship
    When I was six years old, my mother passed away from cancer. At the time, I was too young to understand what that meant, so at the time I was virtually unaffected. But as time passed, I became more aware of how precious life was as I grew and noticed the toll that it took on my father. He is an old-fashioned dude, refusing help from anyone. So he dealt with the loss by nearly working himself to death. What that meant to me and my older brother was that we were left to essentially raise ourselves. Our dad provided and did his best, and this is by no means to say he wasn’t a great father because he was. That is only to say that he dealt with his pain by distracting himself from it by being too tired to stop and process it. By the time I had hit middle school, I had developed depression. I never really had many friends growing up, always sticking to myself, and ended up wasting my life playing video games to escape from the real world. I felt as though I had no one to rely on, as me and my brother have never been that close. Years passed by, and my grades were suffering, never had energy, and this eventually led to suicidal idealization and thoughts. I never sought out help, as I was following the example provided for me, by my father. Tough it out and distract yourself from it was what I perceived the solution to be. So to everyone else, I was just a normal kid, never knowing what I was dealing with. By the 8th grade, the suicidal thoughts became far worse, and while I never committed to an attempt, there were numerous times I had the means and the urge to. Going into high school, I thought I found the solution to my problems, finding a sense of purpose in life. In a weird twisted way, I decided I’d join the Army and die at war so that I wouldn’t have to go out “the cowards' way”. But to join the Army, I had to switch up my entire lifestyle, and somehow this decision pushed me to. I started doing well in school, made friends, got in shape, gained confidence, and by my senior year of high school, I realized I was no longer depressed nor had those thoughts in years. I now wanted to join the Army out of a desire to serve and to have that brotherhood, not a desire to die. A huge distinction. While it seemed like I had resolved my depression, in college I realized I had only suppressed it under the disguise of success, as the second hardship arose again, as it always will, I fell back into it after tearing my ACL during basic training at West Point. I had been kicked out of my dream school and I was unable to do my usual physical hobbies like running and hiking for nearly a year because of the damage. I realized I had done the same thing as my father, just drowning myself in work to distract myself. I finally realized that I needed to process and overcome my loss and forgive myself for these perceptions of hatred I had towards myself. When I was younger, my mother and I would always go to church together, but after she passed, my family stopped going. I considered myself an atheist for much of my life, as what kind of god would take away the mother of a six-year-old kid? However around this time in my life, I began reconsidering the nature of god, as if this hardship never happened, I may have never met all the incredible people I now call friends, and never would've found this strong a sense of purpose, and nor would I have developed this level of self-reliance and strength. I ended up giving Christianity a try once again and decided I would give it a real shot. After nearly a year of devoting my life to god once again, I no longer deal with much of the pain I used to. I feel at peace. After nearly 6 years of battling this, I feel I am finally turning the corner for good, as I now no longer just have happiness or pride, a temporary emotion, I feel at peace with myself, a far more meaningful emotion in my opinion.
    Elizabeth Schalk Memorial Scholarship
    When I was six years old, my mother passed away from cancer. At the time, I was too young to understand what that meant, so at the time I was virtually unaffected. But as time passed, I became more aware of how precious life was as I grew and noticed the toll that it took on my father. He is an old-fashioned dude, refusing help from anyone. So he dealt with the loss by nearly working himself to death. What that meant to me and my older brother was that we were left to essentially raise ourselves. Our dad provided and did his best, and this is by no means to say he wasn’t a great father because he was. That is only to say that he dealt with his pain by distracting himself from it by being too tired to stop and process it. By the time I had hit middle school, I had developed depression. I never really had many friends growing up, always sticking to myself, and ended up wasting my life playing video games to escape from the real world. I felt as though I had no one to rely on, as me and my brother have never been that close. Years passed by, and my grades were suffering, never had energy, and this eventually led to suicidal idealization and thoughts. I never sought out help, as I was following the example provided for me, by my father. Tough it out and distract yourself from it was what I perceived the solution to be. So to everyone else, I was just a normal kid, never knowing what I was dealing with. By the 8th grade, the suicidal thoughts became far worse, and while I never committed to an attempt, there were numerous times I had the means and the urge to. Going into high school, I thought I found the solution to my problems, finding a sense of purpose in life. In a weird twisted way, I decided I’d join the Army and die at war so that I wouldn’t have to go out “the cowards' way”. But to join the Army, I had to switch up my entire lifestyle, and somehow this decision pushed me to. I started doing well in school, made friends, got in shape, gained confidence, and by my senior year of high school, I realized I was no longer depressed nor had those thoughts in years. I now wanted to join the Army out of a desire to serve and to have that brotherhood, not a desire to die. A huge distinction. While it seemed like I had resolved my depression, in college I realized I had only suppressed it under the disguise of success, as the second hardship arose again, as it always will, I fell back into it after tearing my ACL during basic training at West Point. I had been kicked out of my dream school and I was unable to do my usual physical hobbies like running and hiking for nearly a year because of the damage. I realized I had done the same thing as my father, just drowning myself in work to distract myself. I finally realized that I needed to process and overcome my loss and forgive myself for these perceptions of hatred I had towards myself. After nearly 6 years of battling this, I feel I am finally turning the corner for good, as I now no longer have happiness, a temporary emotion, I feel at peace with myself, a far more meaningful emotion in my opinion.
    Elevate Mental Health Awareness Scholarship
    When I was six years old, my mother passed away from cancer. At the time, I was too young to understand what that meant, so at the time I was virtually unaffected. But as time passed, I became more aware of how precious life was as I grew and noticed the toll that it took on my father. He is an old-fashioned dude, refusing help from anyone. So he dealt with the loss by nearly working himself to death. What that meant to me and my older brother was that we were left to essentially raise ourselves. Our dad provided and did his best, and this is by no means to say he wasn’t a great father because he was. That is only to say that he dealt with his pain by distracting himself from it by being too tired to stop and process it. By the time I had hit middle school, I had developed depression. I never really had many friends growing up, always sticking to myself, and ended up wasting my life playing video games to escape from the real world. I felt as though I had no one to rely on, as me and my brother have never been that close. Years passed by, and my grades were suffering, never had energy, and this eventually led to suicidal idealization and thoughts. I never sought out help, as I was following the example provided for me, by my father. Tough it out and distract yourself from it was what I perceived the solution to be. So to everyone else, I was just a normal kid, never knowing what I was dealing with. By the 8th grade, the suicidal thoughts became far worse, and while I never committed to an attempt, there were numerous times I had the means and the urge to. Going into high school, I thought I found the solution to my problems, finding a sense of purpose in life. In a weird twisted way, I decided I’d join the Army and die at war so that I wouldn’t have to go out “the cowards' way”. But to join the Army, I had to switch up my entire lifestyle, and somehow this decision pushed me to. I started doing well in school, made friends, got in shape, gained confidence, and by my senior year of high school, I realized I was no longer depressed nor had those thoughts in years. I now wanted to join the Army out of a desire to serve and to have that brotherhood, not a desire to die. A huge distinction. While it seemed like I had resolved my depression, in college I realized I had only suppressed it under the disguise of success, as the second hardship arose again, as it always will, I fell back into it after tearing my ACL during basic training at West Point. I had been kicked out of my dream school and I was unable to do my usual physical hobbies like running and hiking for nearly a year because of the damage. I realized I had done the same thing as my father, just drowning myself in work to distract myself. I finally realized that I needed to process and overcome my loss and forgive myself for these perceptions of hatred I had towards myself. When I was younger, I and my mother would always go to church together, but after she passed, my family stopped going. I considered myself an atheist for much of my life, as what kind of god would take away the mother of a six-year-old kid? However around this time in my life, I began reconsidering the nature of god, as if this hardship never happened, I may have never met all the incredible people I now call friends, and never would've found this strong a sense of purpose, and nor would I have developed this level of self-reliance and strength. I ended up giving Christianity a try once again and decided I would give it a real shot. After nearly a year of devoting my life to god once again, I no longer deal with much of the pain I used to. I feel at peace. After nearly 6 years of battling this, I feel I am finally turning the corner for good, as I now no longer just have happiness or pride, a temporary emotion, I feel at peace with myself, a far more meaningful emotion in my opinion.
    Elijah's Helping Hand Scholarship Award
    When I was six years old, my mother passed away from cancer. At the time, I was too young to understand what that meant, so at the time I was virtually unaffected. But as time passed, I became more aware of how precious life was as I grew and noticed the toll that it took on my father. He is an old-fashioned dude, refusing help from anyone. So he dealt with the loss by nearly working himself to death. What that meant to me and my older brother was that we were left to essentially raise ourselves. Our dad provided and did his best, and this is by no means to say he wasn’t a great father because he was. That is only to say that he dealt with his pain by distracting himself from it by being too tired to stop and process it. By the time I had hit middle school, I had developed depression. I never really had many friends growing up, always sticking to myself, and ended up wasting my life playing video games to escape from the real world. I felt as though I had no one to rely on, as me and my brother have never been that close. Years passed by, and my grades were suffering, never had energy, and this eventually led to suicidal idealization and thoughts. I never sought out help, as I was following the example provided for me, by my father. Tough it out and distract yourself from it was what I perceived the solution to be. So to everyone else, I was just a normal kid, never knowing what I was dealing with. By the 8th grade, the suicidal thoughts became far worse, and while I never committed to an attempt, there were numerous times I had the means and the urge to. Going into high school, I thought I found the solution to my problems, finding a sense of purpose in life. In a weird twisted way, I decided I’d join the Army and die at war so that I wouldn’t have to go out “the cowards' way”. But to join the Army, I had to switch up my entire lifestyle, and somehow this decision pushed me to. I started doing well in school, made friends, got in shape, gained confidence, and by my senior year of high school, I realized I was no longer depressed nor had those thoughts in years. I now wanted to join the Army out of a desire to serve and to have that brotherhood, not a desire to die. A huge distinction. While it seemed like I had resolved my depression, in college I realized I had only suppressed it under the disguise of success, as the second hardship arose again, as it always will, I fell back into it after tearing my ACL during basic training at West Point. I had been kicked out of my dream school and I was unable to do my usual physical hobbies like running and hiking for nearly a year because of the damage. I realized I had done the same thing as my father, just drowning myself in work to distract myself. I finally realized that I needed to process and overcome my loss and forgive myself for these perceptions of hatred I had towards myself. After nearly 6 years of battling this, I feel I am finally turning the corner for good, as I now no longer have happiness, a temporary emotion, I feel at peace with myself, a far more meaningful emotion in my opinion.
    Sean Carroll's Mindscape Big Picture Scholarship
    The quest to better understand the nature of our universe has been humanity’s most profound and enduring pursuit. This endeavor has driven scientific exploration, technological advancements, and philosophical contemplation for centuries. Inherent to human nature is an insatiable curiosity. From the moment we first gazed at the night sky, humans have been driven to explore, understand, and make sense of the cosmos. This desire has led to remarkable discoveries throughout history. Understanding the universe is essential for satisfying this fundamental human curiosity. This curiosity is deeply embedded in our identity as humans. Currently, it sets us apart from every other species in the universe that we are aware of. The pursuit of cosmic knowledge has been a powerful driver of scientific progress. It resulted in increasingly sophisticated tools and techniques, such as telescopes, particle accelerators, advanced propulsion systems, vehicle design, landing technologies, and space probes. These tools have not only expanded our understanding, but also have found applications in fields as diverse as medicine, communications, and material science. For example, the Hubble Space Telescope, initially designed to explore distant galaxies, has revolutionized our understanding of astrophysics and delivered countless technological innovations. The Big Bang theory suggests that the universe began as a singularity and has been expanding ever since, which has been a pivotal concept in our quest to understand the universe’s origin. Exploring this idea has prompted us to develop theories about the fundamental forces and particles that govern the universe, such as the Higgs boson, and to contemplate the possibility of a multiverse. These scientific advancements have fostered the development of cutting-edge technology that has pushed the boundaries of engineering. These pursuits have created powerful instruments and sophisticated methodologies, from developing detectors to the establishment of communication networks for space missions. As we explore the solar system and venture beyond, we develop increasingly more complex technology and discoveries. For instance, the Mars rover has not only provided insight into the history of the planet but also paved the way for future human missions and maybe even settlements on the Red Planet. Additionally, these technological advancements have made it possible to conduct astrobiology and explore the idea that there is a possibility that life exists beyond Earth, potentially transforming our understanding of life itself. Exploring the universe has also resulted in the development of new materials. These can be used to make spacecraft that can withstand extreme conditions, such as high radiation and temperature fluctuations. Research science has also led to the creation of numerous durable, efficient, and versatile materials that find applications in numerous terrestrial industries. Examples of these are heat shields and other ultra-lightweight materials that fit within aviation and automotive manufacturing increasing performance and safety. On the philosophical side of understanding the universe, it forces us to grapple with the fundamental questions about our place in the cosmos and the nature of existence. Do we possess inherent purpose or significance beyond what we attribute to it as conscious observers? As we explore, we are compelled to confront questions about the origin of the universe, the existence of other intelligent life, and the ultimate fate of our species. Philosophical contemplations have the power to shape our worldviews and guide our ethical and moral decisions. The search for extraterrestrial life is another important philosophical question arising from our exploration. While we have not yet found definitive evidence of extraterrestrial life, the study of extremophiles on Earth and the potentially habitable exoplanets have raised intriguing possibilities. The existence of life beyond Earth would challenge our understanding of the uniqueness of life on our planet and have far-reaching philosophical and ethical consequences. Some of these ethical and moral questions concern our responsibility in terms of planetary protections, the potential impact of our actions on other civilizations, and the stewardship of the earth and its resources. These considerations extend beyond the scientific realm, influencing our decision-making on a global scale. It would also be interesting to see how religious explanations for the universe face science, will science be used to complement religion? Will science replace religion altogether? Or perhaps will religions evolve to coincide with science? As a Christian myself, I believe that science is the framework that God put in place to make existence possible, however, I still believe that belief should be challenged or reinforced with facts and science. The way we go about understanding concepts within the universe is by using tools such as the scientific method, theory of relativity, and other fundamental concepts of systematic observation and testing. Quantum mechanics, another revolutionary theory, has been essential in our understanding of the smallest scales of the universe. It has provided insight into the behavior of particles at the quantum level which is crucial to understanding how these forces govern the universe. Dark matter and energy have emerged to expand our understanding of the cosmos as well. While they remain enigmatic, their existence is inferred through their gravitational effects on galaxies and the expansion of the universe. The study of these phenomena is ongoing, with the hope that it can unravel the mystery, and potentially once again revolutionize our understanding of the universe. Additionally, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) is another form of perhaps expanding our understanding. The systematic search for signals or evidence of technological civilizations beyond Earth can result in an exchange of knowledge between the two civilizations that would have profound implications for humanity. Whether those implications are positive or negative could be highly dependent on factors such as hostility or level of technology. But to summarize, exploring the universe requires a multidisciplinary approach. It must combine knowledge from various fields, including physics, astronomy, chemistry, biology, and computer science. This collaboration fosters a deeper understanding of the universe and allows us to address complex questions that require expertise from different domains. As we continue our exploration of the universe, we must remain committed to sound scientific methods of discovery, while still being open to the potential for paradigm-shifting discoveries. We must be mindful of the ethical and philosophical implications of our cosmic quest. Ultimately, our ongoing exploration of the universe will not only deepen our understanding of the cosmos but also shape the future of our species and our relationship with the vast and enigmatic universe in which we reside.
    Patriots Path Scholarship
    My educational goals are to obtain a criminology degree and to be commissioned into the army as an aviation officer following graduation. Ever since I was a kid I knew my priority in life was to serve others, in high school I found my calling in the military through a teacher and mentor of mine who was a retired Colonel in JROTC. The military’s sense of brotherhood, the pursuit of lifelong learning, and unique opportunities resonated with me heavily. That colonel had helped me develop as a leader, as an athlete, and as an academic. Before discovering my purpose, all I had done was sit in my room and play video games, not caring about what grades I got, what I ate, or my physical health. But he had changed my life, pushing me to become someone worthy of leading soldiers and serving our nation. By my senior year of high school, I was in charge of 8,000 cadets, captain of multiple varsity sports teams including Rifle Marksmanship, Raiders, armed, unarmed, and exhibition drill teams, all while maintaining a next-to-perfect GPA, working 30 hours a week to support my family, and volunteering over 400 hours over 2 years as an explorer with my local sheriff’s office, and being a Fire Rescue Cadet at my local station. I had gotten accepted and attended West Point, however, I unfortunately tore my ACL on the last week of basic training, resulting in me being put on medical leave for a year. During that year, numerous personal events changed my desire to attend ROTC. Upon joining ROTC I got connected with a Special Forces Training Group at MacDill Airforce base, led by a Navy Seal who quickly became one of my best friends all to prepare me for SERE school upon graduation. The Navy Seal alongside the Colonel had changed my life in every possible way, pushing me to achieve things I never thought I'd be capable of. Alongside Kris I ran my first marathon, just 4 years ago I struggled to even complete a mile. During my time volunteering for the Sheriff's Office, I saw the difference that good police can make in a community, and I realized that after I finish serving in the Army, I would be honored to serve locally as well as a deputy. I particularly want to work as a cop in schools so that I can work with kids to help them stay on the right path as they navigate through a confusing and unforgiving world. My community resource officer in school would always play games or crack jokes with us, always a highlight of our day and whatever stresses we had going on back home. Deputy Khan was a huge inspiration to me to pursue my degree in criminology. He showed me that sometimes the greatest impacts happen on the smallest scale. He would always say that power does not always mean influence. The chief of the department may have the greatest power, but he is not always the one changing lives, that happens when boots are on the ground. I am always looking for new opportunities that would help me grow and help others in the process. I spent a month volunteering in Thailand and Laos to teach English in remote villages, even though it is not directly related to my profession, I found the experience promoted a lot of growth in myself in terms of compassion and service. I also spent a week in Washington conducting wilderness route planning & emergency aid and avalanche rescue training.
    Project Kennedy Fighting Cancers of All Colors Scholarship
    My mother passed away when I was six years old to cancer and that event has shaped my life considerably. When it happened at the time, I was too young to understand what death truly meant, and didn’t realize until much later. While I only have a few memories of my mom, the lack of a mother's influence in my life caused much of my behavior growing up and eventually led to me discovering my passion and purpose in life. Growing up, I was your typical class clown, doing anything for attention. My dad worked all the time working to provide for me and my brother, so I ended up developing some developmental issues. I would get extremely mad at the smallest stuff, would constantly act out, and would hide myself in video games to avoid issues I faced in the real world. Even though these challenges were difficult for me to endure, I eventually hit a tipping point that caused life-changing actions going into high school. I discovered that I was done hiding and fantasy and wanted to find purpose in life, which I found through service to others. More specifically, I became deadset on getting into West Point, which I worked day and night toward. Went from a below-average student who never participated in extracurriculars in sports to the top of my class, varsity team captain, and various other leadership positions in clubs, outside volunteer organizations, and JROTC. I had felt like I had done everything right, but still, it wasn’t enough to get in. So going into my current university, USF, I was extremely lost. I knew I wanted to keep pursuing the Army through ROTC, but I held this failure against myself extremely hard. This stream of events led to a lot of self-reflection about myself and where I was going. One reoccurring thought I’d have was of my mom. The very few memories I had of her were of us at church together, or her dedicating all of her time to helping the community through charitable efforts. After she passed, my family stopped going to church, and I had lost my faith, thinking “What kind of god would take away the mother of a six-year-old kid, even if he was real, I don’t want to follow that.” But as I matured and learned from these experiences, I began to question again if all of it was to push me to be stronger so that I could protect others better. I started to question myself once again my faith once, and just as that resurfaced, I met a navy seal whom I quickly became best friends with and training partner. He was a devoted Christian, answered many of my questions and spoke of god’s influence on his life, whos was very similar to mine. A year later, I now consider myself Christian, which I believe is heavily influenced by my limited time with my mom and the path her death ended up sending me on. A path I am extremely proud of and grateful for. My struggles have created a resilient leader who cares for others, had it not been for these hardships, I fear I would’ve become absorbed in my ego or sorrow. While my mother’s influence was primarily indirect, having set a chain of events that made me who I am, I still see her influence as a vital piece of what made me who I am.
    Kalia D. Davis Memorial Scholarship
    My educational goals are to obtain a criminology degree and to be commissioned into the army as an aviation officer following graduation. Ever since I was a kid I knew my #1 priority in life was to serve others, in high school I found my calling in the military through a teacher and mentor of mine who was a retired LTC who helped me develop as a leader, as an athlete, and as an academic. Before discovering my purpose, all I had done was sit in my room and play video games, not caring about what grades I got, what I ate, or my physical activity. But he had changed my life, pushing me to become someone worthy of serving America’s citizens. By my senior year of high school, I was in a leadership position in JROTC in charge of 8,000 cadets, captain of multiple varsity sports teams including Rifle Marksmanship, Raiders, captain of State Finalists teams for Armed, Unarmed, and Exhibition drill teams, all while maintaining a next to perfect GPA, working 30 hours a week to support my family, and volunteering over 400 hours over 2 years as an explorer with my local sheriff’s office, and being a Fire Rescue Cadet at my local station. Upon getting into college, I joined Army ROTC and became the #2 ranked cadet in my program and joined a Special Forces Training Group, led by a Navy Seal to prepare me for SERE school upon graduation. While I believe I am succeeding in all my professional and athletic goals, the main issue that comes about devoting so much time to my passions is that I don’t have enough time in the day to dedicate to financing it all. Throughout my freshman year of college, I worked as a lifeguard for about 30-40 hours a week on top of being a full-time student and ROTC cadet, and it severely limited my ability to dedicate myself to my education and training. By the second semester, burnout was hitting hard a few of my grades began to slip, going from nearly all A's to all A's and two C's. That was a wake-up call for me to focus less on working and more on my education, which prompted me to begin applying for scholarships. Scholarships would allow me to continue putting my all into becoming a man worthy of leading soldiers. This money will open up new opportunities for growth for myself as I continue walking along this path.
    Pinki Promise Scholarship
    After 18 years of my dad refusing to let me have a dog, I finally moved out and was able to get one. One year ago, me and my girlfriend walked through a shelter looking for the perfect match, and there we saw a skinny three-year-old King Charles. She was extremely shy, and didn't have much energy, so we asked for more information about her. Her story was that she would refuse to eat, and puke constantly, and no matter how many times she was taken to the vet, they always said there was nothing wrong with her. So her old owners grew tired and could no longer afford the vet bills, and had to put her up for adoption. My girlfriend fell in love with her upon the first look, so we ended up taking her home with us despite the issues. We named her Lady Nala, after the Disney character. For nearly three months, we struggled with her puking problem, every time we'd leave the house for a second she'd begin crying and uncontrollably puking, so we determined that the issue was likely emotional, not clinical. Every second of every day she'd want to be curled up on top of you, her favorite spot being directly on top of your head while you sleep. Around a month after we thought the problem may be due to anxiety or attachment issues, we began trying to build her confidence that we'll always be back and give her lots of attention, her personality flipped. She now walked around as a princess, primarily due to my girlfriend's spoiling. She still whines when we leave, but the puking and eating problems have stopped. Me and my girlfriend both love Lady Nala, and we are hoping to get her a new doggy friend to keep her company soon to help with her cries when we leave. Lady has a few quirks that we always laugh at. For one, we bought her a nice fancy dog bed, but she refuses to use it, instead, she made herself home in our blanket basket nearby the sofa, a picture of which is in the attachments. When Lady gets excited, she'll start spinning uncontrollably until she hits something and calms down, especially right before we take her out for a walk or give her food. Lady also seems to have a preference for guys, to my girlfriend's disappointment. Whenever we have one of our male friends over, she'll be all over him, and ignore the both of us. Her favorite person in the world is my girlfriend's dad, when he comes over she goes crazy trying to jump and climb him. Lady also loves to give the side eye whenever you do something weird or annoy her. She is deathly afraid of heights and bridges and will do a commando crawl anytime she is forced to walk over one. Lady Nala goes everywhere with us, and we can't wait to move to somewhere with more outdoor space so she can run and explore to her little heart's content. We also are looking at adopting a bigger dog, like a German shepherd, lab, or golden retriever to keep her company and to go on runs with me. Whenever I try to take a lady running with me, she'll just lay down and refuse to be moved until you pick her up and carry her the rest of the way. Nothing but princess treatment for little Lady Nala.
    McClendon Leadership Award
    Leadership to me is the act of looking at the people to your left and right and making the decision to improve together, rather than use them to improve yourself. A good leader should inspire and guide a group toward a common goal through informed decision-making, effective communication, and putting a focus on the well-being of the team. Leadership is not about you or how good you are at the end of the day. A good leader is someone who understands that your team's success is your success, while your success is not always the team's success. This is why team success should be the goal, not your own. Leadership is about leading by example, getting down in the mud with your team and working alongside them to get the mission completed. If your leader only ever tells you what to do, never making an effort to help with the task outside of directing, that leader will never succeed in building the respect of their people. There are multiple forms of leaders. There are leaders due to power, which is authority given due to a position, like the president or your boss. But there are also passive leaders, who may not hold a position of power, but still lead within the team and have an impact on others. An example of this is a school resource officer I worked alongside in the Sheriff’s Office named Deputy Khan. He was in the lowest position of authority within the organization, yet he always had a way of influencing everyone he met. When he would interact with the kids, I paid special attention and was amazed at how just a few minute conversation with him could completely change the children’s mood, oftentimes who were going through rough circumstances and home life. When I spoke to him about this, he said to me that it's boots on the ground that make the real difference, being in the community. Sitting high above it doesn’t allow you to truly connect and make a difference, while of course management is vital to operation success, but that does not negate the leadership role that each of us has regardless of our level in an organization. This resonated with me strongly, as previously I was always obsessed with obtaining the highest level of position possible within any organization I joined because I thought that power was leadership. In a few organizations, I succeeded in that task, in JROTC, I became in charge of over 8,000 cadets. Yet to my surprise, I found that the least rewarding position I ever held, as I rarely had the opportunity to interact with the cadets I was tasked with leading. It was just paperwork, speeches, and delegation, that's not leadership, that's management. But remembering back to when I was just a team member, and being able to work alongside my friends and train together were some of the most rewarding and influential leadership lessons I had. Leadership is important because a group of people without a shared vision or direction is unable to achieve much other than confusion and chaos. Leaders provide a clear sense of direction and motivation. Leaders foster a sense of unity within a group and can promote innovation by allowing members to explore and vocalize new ideas. Leaders also needed to be held accountable for their actions and the actions of their team. This promotes productivity by addressing issues that arise. In my opinion, the most important purpose of a leader is to further develop and mentor team members, helping them grow personally and professionally.
    Priscilla Shireen Luke Scholarship
    Giving back is one of my core ideals that I live by. I learned early in life that service to others is the most rewarding thing a person can do, outweighing material objects, personal success or glory, and other worldly desires. That is why I made the decision six years ago to pursue becoming an officer in the Army where I can work to protect those who are unable to protect themselves, and help members of the armed forces be set for the civilian world. After my own time in the military, I intend on pursuing a career in law enforcement, so that I can continue to give back but on a more local and personal level with my community. Throughout high school, I had done nearly a thousand hours of volunteering between various organizations, such as JROTC, Sheriff Explorer and volunteer firefighter. I made some of my closest friends through these programs, and it was very rewarding seeing the connection that we made with the community through our actions. I did roughly 400 hours of volunteering with my sheriff's office, ranging from numerous events. We would volunteer at the fair for parking duties, raising money for children to get christmas gifts on Christmas, deliver turkeys to impoverished families on thanksgiving, and do police training to further volunteer’s pursuits in joining law enforcement. This program delivered extensive leadership experience and medical/emergency response skills that we could use in our future careers on top of just serving the community. However, while quantitatively, those were my biggest acts of community service, there is one last one that was by far the most meaningful. Over winter break, I went to Laos for a month with an organization called GiveVolunteer, and worked in a remote village named Sop Chem teaching English to children and developing sustainable agricultural projects for the communities to use for many years to come. This program had severely changed my life and had created lifelong memories. In Sop Chem there was no road access, the only way to arrive there was by a 3 hour drive from the nearest city, followed by a 2 hour boat ride up a river. There was no internet, running water, electricity, or any of the other amenities we often take for granted in the comfort of our own homes. We learned extensively about the secret war waged in Laos during the vietnam war, and the millions of unexploded ordinances still scattered across Laos left by America today, that still continues to kill dozens of people daily. We were taught how to spread awareness on the issue back home, to push for our government to increase its aid to remove these bombs, that primarily kill or injure children due to the bombs looking like toys. There was a 7 year old boy in Sop Chem named Dontgca, who I became especially close to. Everyday after class I would walk him back to his grandfather's house, who was a soldier in Vietnam fighting against America. As someone who is in the armed forces hearing the other side was eye opening. In the US, we only ever hear our own point of view, and make it seem like we do no evil, but listening to his experiences changed my entire outlook on the world. At the end of the day, war is inevitable, but it is important to note that the blame lies on politicians, not the individual soldiers or citizens who are just trying to survive and keep their family safe.
    Boatswain’s Mate Third Class Antonie Bernard Thomas Memorial Scholarship
    My goals are to become an officer and an aviator in the Army while pursuing a bachelor's in Criminal Justice. Leadership is a huge part of my everyday routine considering the path I am looking to take. I am currently in my university’s Army ROTC program, which at its core is designed to build leaders for the armed forces. What the past five years of growing as a leader have taught me is that leadership is not about you or how good you are. A good leader is someone who understands that your team's success is your success, while your success is not always the team's success. This is why team success should be the goal, not your own. After my time in the Army, I intend to pursue a career in law enforcement. In high school, I ended up joining an explorer program at my sheriff’s office to further develop my leadership abilities and to provide additional volunteer opportunities. Within this program, I met several fantastic deputies who have changed my perception of the world. For a long time, I was obsessed with being the top dog. Whatever organization, I wanted to be in charge of it. But these deputies have taught me that power doesn’t equal influence. While my intentions for being in charge were to improve the organization and help those within it, at the end of the day, even the smallest members of an organization can have a huge impact and a passive leadership role. I often observed one deputy in particular, Deputy Khan, as he had a way of influencing everyone he met. So when he would interact with the kids, I paid special attention and was amazed at how just a few minute conversation with him could completely change the children’s mood, oftentimes who were going through rough circumstances and home life. When I spoke to him about this, he said to me that it's boots on the ground that make the real difference, being in the community. Sitting high above it doesn’t allow you to truly connect and make a difference, while of course management is vital to operation success, but that does not negate the leadership role that each of us has regardless of our level in an organization. Within my daily life, I always try to help out others before myself, as I believe what comes around goes around. If you help others, they will be more inclined to help you, and in such a complex world, it is impossible to become an expert at everything. So helping each other with our strengths and asking for help from those who have different strengths is the best way to get maximum outcomes. My resilience used to be self-determined, but upon realizing that it's okay to ask for help from others, I’ve found I can overcome any challenge with minimal difficulty. For example, I recently tore my ACL, which got me kicked out of West Point, my dream school. However, due to my support structure from my friends and family, and the previous hardships I’ve overcome in the past, I got back to work even more determined to succeed than before. Many things in life you just have to do, it isn't a matter of whether or not you want to, and just accepting that makes it far easier to get up on a drowsy morning, hit the gym, get to classes, followed by an 8 hours shift at work later that evening with a smile on your face ready to knock it all out again tomorrow.
    Bald Eagle Scholarship
    Ever since I was a kid I knew my #1 priority in life was to serve others, in high school I found my calling in the military through a teacher and mentor of mine who was a retired colonel. He had helped me develop as a leader, as an athlete, and as an academic. Before discovering my purpose, all I had done was sit in my room and play video games, not caring about what grades I got, what I ate, or my physical health. But he had changed my life, pushing me to become someone worthy of leading soldiers and serving our nation. By my senior year of high school, I had become a completely different person than who I was walking into my freshman year. Going in I was shy, an average student, and the farthest thing from an athlete that you could imagine. I had zero self-esteem, and despite already having the desire to serve, I had no confidence in my ability to make it there. That colonel took me under his wing and changed my mindset from feeling sorry for myself for who I was today and sculpting it into who I can become tomorrow rather than who I was yesterday. Upon getting into college, I joined Army ROTC and within the program got connected with a Special Forces Training Group at a nearby base, led by a Navy Seal who quickly became one of my best friends all to prepare me for SERE school upon graduation. The navy seal's name was Kris, and he alongside the colonel had changed my life in every possible way, pushing me to achieve things I never thought I'd be capable of. Alongside Kris I ran my first marathon, just 4 years ago I struggled to even complete a mile. Kris also changed my life in a spiritual sense as well. In high school, I had gotten rejected from my dream school, the United States Military Academy, and began feeling lost in life again, as everything I had worked towards seemed to be for nothing. Kris introduced me to Christianity and the strength that it had given him in his own struggles to become a navy seal. Through his invitation, I made numerous close friends and have found inner peace and happiness regardless of the challenges that life would continue to throw my way, including an ACL injury with a 9-month recovery that continued to throw a wrench in my pursuit towards the military. But through my faith and my friends, I always manage to get back on my feet and keep pushing forward. When I was 6, my mom passed away from cancer, and I was too young to realize what that meant at the time. So naturally, I looked to my father, and while he was extremely hurt by it, he knew he still had 2 boys to raise. So he was able to put his feelings aside and work hard to provide for me and my brother. He never asked anything from us, his sole intent was to give us the best lives he could. So while he never forced any of these values into me, just watching him while I grew up, I came to admire his willingness to serve others regardless of what he was going through. Part of the reason I work so hard now is in the hopes that one day I can be as strong as he was through adversity and still be able to provide and give a good life to my future family.
    Our Destiny Our Future Scholarship
    I intend to make a positive impact in the world by becoming an officer within the Army by pursuing a Criminal Justice degree and continuing my service in law enforcement after retirement. Throughout high school, I volunteered upwards of 400 hours to both my sheriff's office as an explorer and with my local fire station. Living a life of service to others has been my primary focus for nearly six years now. Over winter break, I went to Thailand & Laos for a month with an organization called GiveVolunteer, and worked in remote villages for 2 weeks in each country teaching English to children and developing sustainable agricultural projects for the communities to use for many years to come. This program severely changed my life and created lifelong memories. In Laos, we stayed in a small village named Sop Chem, with no road access, the only way to arrive there was by a 3-hour drive from the nearest city, followed by a 2-hour boat ride up a river. There was no internet, running water, electricity, or any of the other amenities we often take for granted in the comfort of our own homes. Here we taught English and sustainable agriculture projects, with the addition of a few other local activities. We learned extensively about the secret war waged in Laos during the Vietnam war, and the millions of unexploded ordinances still scattered across Laos left by America today, that continue to kill dozens of people daily. We were taught how to spread awareness on the issue back home, to push for our government to increase its aid to remove these bombs, that primarily kill or injure children due to the bombs looking like toys. We also learned about the effects of China building structurally poor dams that would collapse and kill and displace tens of thousands of people every year. All while essentially enslaving the country in debt to China. At the end of our trip, we took a car ride through some of these flooded cities, and it was heartbreaking to see. There was a 7-year-old boy in Sop Chem named Dontgca, who I became especially close to. Every day after class I would walk him back to his grandfather's house, who was a soldier in Vietnam fighting against America. As someone who is in the armed forces and pursuing a career as an officer in the army, hearing the other side was eye-opening. In the US, we only ever hear our point of view, and make it seem like we do no evil, but listening to his experiences changed my entire outlook on the world. At the end of the day, war is inevitable, but it is important to note that the blame lies on politicians, not the individual soldiers or citizens who are just trying to survive and keep their families safe. It is experiences like this that I believe help shape me into a good leader, having more perspective into the actions of leaders and the repercussions they may have is vital to making good decisions that have a positive impact on the world.
    Curtis Holloway Memorial Scholarship
    My educational goals are to obtain a criminology degree and to be commissioned into the army as an aviation officer following graduation. Ever since I was a kid I knew my #1 priority in life was to serve others, in high school I found my calling in the military through a teacher and mentor of mine who was a retired colonel. He had helped me develop as a leader, as an athlete, and as an academic. Before discovering my purpose, all I had done was sit in my room and play video games, not caring about what grades I got, what I ate, or my physical health. But he had changed my life, pushing me to become someone worthy of leading soldiers and serving our nation. By my senior year of high school, I had become a completely different person than who I was walking into my freshman year. Going in I was shy, an average student, and the farthest thing from an athlete that you could imagine. I had zero self-esteem, and despite already having the desire to serve, I had no confidence in my ability to make it there. That colonel took me under his wing and changed my mindset from feeling sorry for myself for who I am today and sculpting it into who I can become tomorrow rather than focusing on who I am not today. Upon getting into college, I joined Army ROTC and within it, I got connected with a Special Forces Training Group at a nearby base, led by a Navy Seal named Kris who quickly became one of my best friends all to prepare me for SERE school upon graduation. Alongside Kris I ran my first marathon, just 4 years ago I struggled to even complete a mile. Kris also changed my life in a spiritual sense as well. In high school, I had gotten rejected from my dream school, the United States Military Academy, and began feeling lost in life again, as everything I had worked towards felt like it was for nothing. Kris introduced me to Christianity and the strength that it had given him in his struggles to become a Navy seal. Through his invitation, I made numerous close friends and have found inner peace and happiness regardless of the challenges that life would continue to throw my way, including an ACL injury with a 9-month recovery that continued to throw a wrench in my pursuit towards the military. But through my faith and my friends, I always manage to get back on my feet and keep pushing forward. When I was 6, my mom passed away from cancer, and I was too young to realize what that meant at the time. So naturally, I looked to my father, and while he was extremely hurt by it, he knew he still had 2 boys to raise. So he was able to put his feelings aside and work hard to provide for me and my brother. He never asked anything from us, his sole intent was to give us the best lives he could. So while he never forced any of these values into me, just watching him while I grew up, I came to admire his willingness to serve others regardless of what he was going through. Part of the reason I work so hard now is in the hopes that one day I can be as strong as he was through adversity and still be able to provide and give a good life to my future family.
    Servant Ships Scholarship
    Growing up, I have always loved to read as a means of escaping to another world or learning skills from other people’s experiences. Two particularly impactful books/franchises that have impacted my life are "Can't Hurt Me" by David Goggins and the series “Ranger’s Apprentice” by John Flanagan. “Can’t Hurt Me” It provides an incredible life story of a Navy Seal and the challenges he faced to achieve it, going from overweight and unhealthy to a Navy SEAL and elite ultramarathon runner. His story is a testament to the power of human resilience and determination. “Ranger’s Apprentice” is a fantasy story about an unassuming orphan who is discarded for his short stature and frail figure. But one man, Halt, a ranger takes the orphan under his wing and teaches him how to be a good man and protect others as a ranger. In “Can’t Hurt Me”, Goggin’s shares his philosophy on mental toughness, it can be extremely motivating to readers to change their lives around. For me personally, it pushed me to run my first ever marathon and endure through some particularly challenging chapters of my life. The book gives practical advice and challenges you to do various self improvement tasks. An example of this is his technique called the accountability mirror, which involves self reflection and personal accountability. Another example is the 40% rule, which suggests that we often give up when we still have so much untapped potential. He talks extensively about setting and achieving goals, pushing through physical and mental pain, and his advice can be applied to any aspect of life, not just extremely physical challenges. The moral of the story is that anyone can achieve extraordinary things with the right mindset and unwavering commitment. The book is raw and honest, refusing to sugarcoat his experiences, insecurities, trauma, and pain he endured. Making it extremely relatable to me, as I have also gone through some of the experiences he talks about. His writing style is engaging, keeping even non-readers hooked and eager to continue reading about his journey, and more importantly empowers readers to replicate his success. His story has pushed me far beyond what I ever thought was capable, pushing me to train with other Navy Seals at my local military base to prepare me for my eventual goal of becoming a pilot in the army, which means I must pass an extremely challenging school known as SERE. Ranger’s Apprentice is a series I read in middle school into early high school. It had significantly shaped the my aspirations in life and has molded many of my values. Reading about the journey of a realistic kid with no special abilities or circumstances being able to build himself into a protector of the innocents through shere willpower and determination was extremely inspiring to me. This story is largely the reason why I initially became interesting in joining the Army, a goal I have been chasing for nearly six years now. While the series is fantasy, the characters are very similar to real people. They aren’t some type of chosen, or have powers, or rich, or any other archtypes that many heroes typically follow. They are just regular people like you and I, who have pushed themselves to their breaking point in order to become strong enough to protect those who don’t have the means to protect themselves. I saw this story as essentially a jumpstart to the path I’ve chosen for myself, that surge of inspiration that gave me the courage to make the first step, which is often the most difficult.
    Eden Alaine Memorial Scholarship
    My mother passed away when I was six years old to cancer and that event has shaped my life considerably. When it happened at the time, I was too young to understand what death truly meant, and didn’t realize until much later. While I only have a few memories of my mom, the lack of a mother's influence in my life had caused much of my behavior growing up and eventually led to me discovering my passion and purpose in life. Growing up, I was your typical class clown, doing anything for attention. My dad worked all the time working to provide for me and my brother, so I ended up developing some developmental issues. I would get extremely mad at the smallest stuff, would constantly act out, and would hide myself in video games to avoid issues I faced in the real world. Even though these challenges were difficult for me to endure, I eventually hit a tipping point that caused life changing actions going into high school. I discovered that I was done hiding and fantasy and wanted to find purpose in life, which I found through service to others. More specifically, I became deadset on getting into West Point, which I worked day and night towards. Went from a below average student who never participated in extracurriculars in sports to top of my class, varsity team captain, and various other leadership positions in clubs, outside volunteer organizations, and JROTC. I had felt like I had done everything right, but still, it wasn’t enough to get in. So going into my current university, USF, I was extremely lost. I knew I wanted to keep pursuing the Army through ROTC, but I held this failure against myself extremely hard. This stream of events led to a lot of self reflection about myself and where I was going. One reoccuring thought I’d have was of my mom. The very few memories I had of her were of us at church together, or her dedicating all of her time to helping the community through charitable efforts. After she passed, my family stopped going to church, and I had lost my faith, thinking “what kind of god would take away the mother of a six year old kid, even if he was real, I don’t want to follow that.” But as I matured and learned from these experiences, I began to question again if all of it was to push me to be stronger so that I can protect others better. I started to question once again my faith, and just as that resurfaced, I met a navy seal who I quickly became best friends with and training partners. He was a devoted chrisitian, and answered many of my questions and spoke of god’s influence on his life, whos was very similar to mine. A year later, I now consider myself Christian, which I believe is heavily influenced by my limited time with my mom, and the path her death ended up sending me on. A path I am extremely proud of and grateful for. My struggles have created a resilient leader who actually cares for others, had it not been for these hardships, I fear I would’ve became absorbed in my own ego or sorrow. While my mother’s influence was primarily indirectly, having set a chain of events that made me who I am, I still see her influence as a vital piece of what made me who I am.
    Windward Spirit Scholarship
    The text “Ode to Millenials-Gen Z” appears to be a reflection of the unique challenges and opportunities that we as Millennials or Gen Z face. The text acknowledges that each generation faces its own set of challenges, whether it be war, economic, social, or political hardships. I think it is unfair to state that older generations have outright caused all of our problems and are forcing us to fix them alone. Older generations made choices that seemed the best at that time, to expect people to be able to predict the consequences of their actions with 100% certainty is unrealistic. Additionally, older generations are the primary individuals making change at the highest level. This being said, however, Millennials and Gen Z are increasingly willing to accept their duty to address pressing issues, just as the greatest generation did in their time. This sense of duty may have been caused by the urgency of problems such as climate change, financial instability, and social inequality. A lot of us simply do not feel like we have a choice to act or not, it's simply we act, or we no longer can act. The passage touches on the idea that younger generations may be able to tackle problems without harboring resentment towards previous generations. This is important as cooperation and collaboration across generations may be needed to solve complex issues. The passage also notes that many young people seem excited about being part of a solution, indicating a sense of optimism and enthusiasm. I believe this is the case due to people’s need for purpose in life and the sense of community. I do not think that this trait is exclusive to our generation, rather it is merely a need for all humans across time. Having a sense of purpose in life is a deeply spiritual feeling, and people tend to seek out ways to serve, whether it be through the military, ecological conservation, social or political issues, or any other problems our world faces. However, modern concerns have developed a sense of community around the groups working to fix them. Especially within the climate change community, a strong brotherhood has formed that I have seen firsthand in my time volunteering in Thailand and Laos working on education and ecological efforts. That sense of community can feel very rewarding and instill a desire to continue serving through them. Students may also feel a desire to work towards making a difference as a means of pursuing higher education. Colleges and scholarships highly favor students who have showcased community service, as it often shows leadership qualities and strong moral character. While the intent behind solving issues in their communities and worldwide may start for personal reasons, often when serving, you end up learning a lot about yourself and how meaningful service tends to be. This was personally the case for me, I had started off volunteering and working towards fixing various issues as merely a resume builder for jobs and college. However within the various programs I took part in, I found a love for serving that continues to the current day. Social media plays a huge part in the younger generations' efforts towards making a better world. Social media makes it effortless to spread awareness and advocacy towards issues, making it far easier to market and gain supporters for various issues. It can also be used as a mobilization tool for activism and rallying support for specific events or causes. Hashtags, online petitions, and coordinated campaigns can quickly gain momentum, drawing attention. It also is a powerful fundraising tool and a crowdsourcing solution space, allowing a collection of ideas and solutions from a global audience. Social media also promotes transparency within governments and organizations by exposing corruption or mismanagement. While social media has the means to have a positive effect, there are some negative effects from it as well that are important to note. Social media can be a breeding ground for misinformation making it difficult to separate fact from fiction, which can hinder informed decision-making and efforts to address world issues. It can also promote echo chambers and polarization, making it harder to find common ground between differing groups on complex issues. Social media also promotes slacktivism, which is shallow engagement where people simply like or share posts and pretend like they are taking substantive action. To summarize, the text conveys a sense of hope and potential for positive change through the efforts of Millennials and Gen Z. It encourages intergenerational understanding and cooperation. It highlights the importance of recognizing that each generation faces unique challenges, and the future can be shaped by the collective actions and perspectives of all generations working together towards the common goal of fixing major local or global issues.
    Derk Golden Memorial Scholarship
    Throughout high school, I participated in a little-known sport known as Raiders within JROTC. It started out as an "I'll just give it a shot", as I was far from your typical athletic student. I was skin and bone, could barely run 400 meters, and never really grew up in that environment. But despite those factors, I gave it a shot, starting on the JV team that didn't have a tryout. Within this sport, you competed in 5 events, the 5k run, 1 mile 140lb liter carry, obstacle course, rope bridge, and tire flip. On the first day of practice, we started with a 5k, followed by the 1-mile liter carry, followed by the obstacle course in the 90-degree Florida heat. The result was me puking multiple times and being driven home with severe heat exhaustion. Despite my lack of abilities, I managed to push through the events, and that was enough to get me coming back to the next practice. Every day for that first year was torture, I'd spend the entire day dreading practice because I knew I wasn't nearly as good as all the other kids, and I'd just slow the team down. But the coach, a retired First Sergeant in the army, told me that if I quit now, I'd never become like them. So I continued to stick with it, building an incredible bond with my team, and improving my physical fitness each day. By my senior year, that skinny, slow kid had become the varsity team captain and had top physical fitness scores within the entirety of JROTC at my school. Sports had taught me the importance of showing up and putting in the work behind the scenes. After practice every day, my head would be beating from the heat, but still, I'd force myself to go to the gym to lift, then finish off with another run after my 2nd workout of the day through sheer willpower and discipline. On top of completely reversing my poor health, I went from merely being a part of a community, to being able to build a community. It was extremely rewarding seeing new freshmen who were just like me, extremely unfit, and building them into the future athletes and leaders of the program. Now, two years after high school, my physical fitness has only improved dramatically. Within college, I joined a Special Forces Training Group team led by a Navy Seal at MacDill Airforce Base, and alongside his mentorship, I ran my first marathon, and think 5 years ago I struggled to run a mile. Additionally, I've begun entering spartan races, triathlons, and have continued my weightlifting, however I don't compete within that area. My lifestyle, my health, and my mental state have all changed from night to day due to me joining that sport on a whim in high school.
    Reasons To Be - In Memory of Jimmy Watts
    My career goals are to become an Army officer and an aviator. I am pursuing a criminology degree to continue my service in law enforcement after retirement. I have nearly a thousand hours of volunteering between various organizations, such as ROTC and Sheriff Explorer. Within ROTC, we did various volunteering activities including fundraisers for school activities/programs and for veterans to show our appreciation. We often did athletic events to gather canned foods for homeless shelters, such as rucking 12 miles with a pack full of canned goods each volunteer wanted to donate. I made some of my closest friends through these programs, and it was very rewarding to see the connection that we made with the community through our actions. I did roughly 400 hours of volunteering with my sheriff's office, ranging from numerous events. We would volunteer at the fair for parking duties, raise money for children to get Christmas gifts on Christmas, deliver turkeys to impoverished families on Thanksgiving, and do police training to further pursuits in law enforcement. This program delivered extensive leadership experience and medical/emergency response skills that we could use in our future careers on top of just serving the community. However, while quantitatively, those were my biggest acts of community service, there is one last one that was by far the most meaningful. Over winter break, I went to Thailand & Laos for a month with an organization called GiveVolunteer and worked in remote villages for 2 weeks in each country teaching English to children and developing sustainable agricultural projects for the communities to use for many years to come. This program severely changed my life and created lifelong memories. In Laos, we stayed in a small village named Sop Chem, the only way to arrive there was by a 3-hour drive from the nearest city, followed by a 2-hour boat ride up a river. There was no internet, running water, electricity, or any of the other amenities we often take for granted in the comfort of our own homes. We learned extensively about the secret war waged in Laos during the Vietnam war, and the millions of unexploded ordinances still scattered across Laos left by America today, that continue to kill dozens of people daily. We were taught how to spread awareness on the issue back home, to push for our government to increase its aid to remove these bombs, that primarily kill or injure children due to the bombs looking like toys. We also learned about the effects of China building structurally poor dams that would collapse and kill and displace tens of thousands of people every year. All while essentially enslaving the country in debt to China. At the end of our trip, we took a car ride through some of these flooded cities, and it was heartbreaking to see. There was a 7-year-old boy in Sop Chem named Dontgca, who I became especially close to. Every after class I would walk him back to his grandfather's house, who was a soldier in Vietnam fighting against America. As someone who is in the armed forces and pursuing a career as an officer in the army, hearing the other side was eye-opening. In the US, we only ever hear our point of view, and make it seem like we do no evil, but listening to his experiences changed my entire outlook on the world. At the end of the day, war is inevitable, but it is important to note that the blame lies on politicians, not the individual soldiers or citizens who are just trying to survive and keep their families safe.
    Bright Lights Scholarship
    My educational goals are to obtain a criminology degree and to be commissioned into the army as an aviation officer following graduation. Ever since I was a kid I knew my #1 priority in life was to serve others, in high school I found my calling in the military through a teacher and mentor of mine who was a retired LTC. He had helped me develop as a leader, as an athlete, and as an academic. Before discovering my purpose, all I had done was sit in my room and play video games, not caring about what grades I got, what I ate, or my physical health. But he had changed my life, pushing me to become someone worthy of leading soldiers and serving our nation. By my senior year of high school, I was in a leadership position in JROTC in charge of 8,000 cadets, captain of multiple varsity sports teams including Rifle Marksmanship, Raiders, captain of State Finalists teams for Armed, Unarmed, and Exhibition drill teams, all while maintaining a next to perfect GPA, working 30 hours a week to support my family, and volunteering over 400 hours over 2 years as an explorer with my local sheriff’s office, and being a Fire Rescue Cadet at my local station. Upon getting into college, I joined Army ROTC and quickly became the #2 ranked cadet in my program. Through ROTC, I got connected with a Special Forces Training Group at a nearby base, led by a Navy Seal who quickly became one of my best friends all to prepare me for SERE school upon graduation. The navy seal's name was Kris, and he alongside the LTC had changed my life in every possible way, pushing me to achieve things I never thought I'd be capable of. Alongside Kris I ran my first marathon, just 4 years ago I struggled to even complete a mile. During my time volunteering for the Sheriff's Office, I saw the difference that good police can make in a community, and I realized that after I finish serving in the Army, I would be honored to serve locally as well as a deputy. I particularly want to work as a cop in schools so that I can work with kids to help them stay on the right path as they navigate through a confusing and unforgiving world. My community resource officer in school would always play games or crack jokes with us, always a highlight of our day and whatever stresses we had going on back home. Deputy Khan was a huge inspiration to me to pursue my degree in criminology. He showed me that sometimes the greatest impacts happen on the smallest scale. He would always say that power does not always mean influence. The chief of the department may have the greatest power, but he is not the one changing lives, that happens when boots are on the ground. While of course, those management & support jobs are critical for those who serve and protect our citizens, I find the face-to-face element far more rewarding. This scholarship would allow me to continue devoting all my time and effort into my academic and professional pursuits.
    Book Lovers Scholarship
    If everyone could read just one book in the world, I think my selection would be "Can't Hurt Me" by David Goggins. It provides an incredible life story of a Navy Seal and the challenges he faced to achieve it, going from overweight and unhealthy to a Navy SEAL and elite ultramarathon runner. His story is a testament to the power of human resilience and determination. Goggin shares his philosophy on mental toughness, it can be extremely motivating to readers to change their lives around. For me, it pushed me to run my first-ever marathon and endure some particularly challenging chapters of my life. The book gives practical advice and challenges you to do various self-improvement tasks. An example of this is his technique called the accountability mirror, which involves self-reflection and personal accountability. Another example is the 40% rule, which suggests that we often give up when we still have so much untapped potential. He talks extensively about setting and achieving goals and pushing through physical and mental pain, and his advice can be applied to any aspect of life, not just extreme physical challenges. The moral of the story is that anyone can achieve extraordinary things with the right mindset and unwavering commitment. The book is raw and honest, refusing to sugarcoat his experiences, insecurities, trauma, and pain he endured. Making it extremely relatable to those who have also faced adversity. His writing style is engaging, keeping even non-readers hooked and eager to continue reading about his journey.
    Janean D. Watkins Overcoming Adversity Scholarship
    Ever since I was a child I knew that I wanted to serve and protect others in my life. From this, I discovered the Army and decided that it was my dream to attend the United States Military Academy. Throughout high school, I worked tirelessly to achieve that, ranging from academic excellence to extensive leadership positions, and varsity athletics, all while working a part-time job. Despite having felt like I did everything right, by the end of my senior year, I found that I was still rejected from the school. So instead I attended the University of South Florida, while doing Army ROTC, as that would also obtain a commission as an officer in the Army. I am currently pursuing a criminology degree so that I can continue to serve after retiring from the Army through law enforcement. In the Army, my dream is to fly helicopters or to go airborne infantry. I figured if I couldn't pilot aircrafts, I wanted to jump out of them. Through ROTC, I got connected with a Special Forces Training Group team led by operators at a nearby base. Within this team, we were physically and mentally beaten until our dreams were tested at their very core. Thoughts such as “Is this really what you want”, and “Is this really how you wanted to live” rattled around each of our heads as we ran another mile, and did another pushup, as we gasped for another breath of air in the pool. Some people said no, this isn’t my calling, and left the team, deciding that this lifestyle wasn’t for them. But for the others that stayed, we became a brotherhood. A group of former strangers, now operating on the same wavelength. We no longer even had to discuss how we’d tackle a new obstacle the operators would throw at us, we simply knew what each of us had to do instinctually. After months of simply taking the beatings, we had finally gotten to a point where we were thriving in the hell they created for us. What used to be a sigh of exhaustion after each instruction, became a smirk of confidence in our team. After a semester of that, I found that I still had the itch to attend West Point in the back of my head, so I reapplied, this time getting in. The following summer, I attended West Point’s basic training, and once again, I failed to get in. This time due to me tearing my ACL on the last week of training only completed 8/11 of the required tasks. Once again, I was crushed and confused, with the stress of the 9-month recovery process of a torn ACL on top of it. In my inactivity due to the injury, I began to evaluate what it is I truly want in life. The answer I found was that I no longer cared about the prestige of attending the United States Military Academy, I simply wanted to serve. My failures humbled me and made me remember what this was all for. It doesn’t matter if I go to ROTC or West Point, we both start at the same rank in the same Army. Now I am returning to ROTC, and will use this realization and failures to push myself even harder to obtain my goals.