Two recent graduates from Conway High School both were awarded full-ride ROTC (Reserve Officers’ Training Corps) scholarships amounting more than $100,000 each.
JROTC (Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps) Battalion Commander Zayda Betz received $139,800 and Executive Officer Savannah DuBose was awarded $250,000.
DuBose said one of her instructors encouraged her to apply for the scholarship. She said the process of filling out the application, writing the essays, being interviewed by the ROTC instructor at the University of Central Arkansas and completing the physical fitness test began in November 2016 and she found out she was chosen early February 2017.
Between her academics, physical fitness and test-taking capabilities, she said she was not necessarily surprised when she got the news during a school day.
"I kind of knew I had a really good shot at getting the scholarship," DuBose said. "Immediately, I was jumping and screaming."
Overall, she said she worked exceptionally hard on the essays required and is proud of what she did to accomplish this great thing.
The $250,000 will go toward college at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee where she will be a part of the School of Engineering. She plans to major in biomedical engineering and possibly chemical engineering.
DuBose said is thankful for the time she spent in JROTC at CHS and for the supportive instructors she served under.
"They were always there to help me with whatever I needed," she said.
The 18-year-old said she is a "completely different person" now from the shy girl she was when she joined JROTC in the ninth grade, and grew to be a more confident person who has learned to be a leader.
"Getting out of my shell was not something I was happy about," DuBose said.
Dubose, the daughter of Tony and Lisa DuBose, said she initially wanted to enlist in the U.S. Army but after looking into ROTC and the possibility of a scholarship, realized going to school first was the best route for her.
"I feel like [the Army] is a good fit," DuBose said. "I looked at every branch but I like the Army because it has so many options. It just felt right."
She said she is thankful that the people who made the selection saw potential in her.
"I’m really proud of myself for going for it and I’m honored they chose me to receive this scholarship," DuBose said.
As for the future, she plans to enter into the Army as an officer and work in military intelligence or in the medical field.
"It’s kind of a wait-and-see with me," DuBose said.
Betz enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps, but when she made a high score on her aptitude test, she decided she wanted to pursue school and become an officer. She said her initial enlistment gave her an edge when it came to the scholarship, and through the application process, Betz said she was one of the top candidates being considered.
While she also wasn’t completely surprised, she said she was still shocked, happy and relieved when she found out she would be receiving $139,800 toward her education at the University of Washington in Seattle.
For Betz, the U.S. Marine Corps was her choice because she said she enjoys working hard.
"I think there’s something a little bit different about the [U.S.] Marine Corps," she said.
The 18-year-old daughter of Barbi and Larry Betz said the camaraderie and the "I have your back" mentality of the military branch drew her in.
Because of the physical toll training has on any person, Betz chose school in Washington so she can strength train in the mountains while she’s in school.
While there, Betz said she intends to study an area that will allow her to eventually work with veterans who suffer from PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder).
"Whatever gets me there," she said.
Betz said JROTC taught her to be a leader and to have confidence in her position while also teaching her the benefits of working with others of diversity.
"[JROTC] was incredible for me," she said.
Currently, Betz said she is contracted to be a pilot and will spend six years training for that after college.
"That is the goal right now," she said.
While she originally liked the idea of being in combat, Betz felt this opportunity, which will allow her to travel, fit better.
Either way, she said she can make a difference, whether it’s extracting someone from the battle field or getting supplies from one place to the other.
Overall, Betz said the scholarship will allow her to receive her education and learn how to lead people as best as she can.
"The scholarship is just an opportunity to do what I can for the country," she said.