Within months of graduating Turlock High School, senior Colby McCann has two dreams he aims to pursue, and thanks to a four-year $180,000 Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (NJROTC) scholarship, he won’t have to choose between the two.
The four-year cadet marked the third THS senior to receive the award—following Bryson Curtain and David Tomlinson in 2014 and 2015, respectively—that will help him attend the college of his choice and become a Navy officer.
“This NJROTC scholarship is a means of free college—money that could go towards a school like UC Berkeley that I won’t have to worry about paying back,” said McCann. “Most people see the requirement that you have to serve four years after college as a tradeoff, but I see it as an opportunity. I not only get to go to college for free, but I get to be an officer.”
McCann said that it was not until he attended Fleet Week in San Francisco four years ago that he decided to join the NJROTC program at the high school campus.
“Before, I was not really interested or seeing the Navy as an option,” said McCann. “But when we went there, I saw how cool it was and I realized that serving in the Navy would be a really interesting way to not only see the world, but to also serve my country.”
The triumph of McCann is not an individual success story, but just one unique anecdote from the 130 successful cadets currently involved in the THS NJROTC program, which has three nationally ranked teams in Air Rifle, Orienteering and Academics.
The THS NJROTC Air Rifle Team is ranked No. 1 in Area 13, which is comprised of 13 Western states including Hawaii and Guam, and the 2015-16 Varsity Team is undefeated in shoulder to shoulder competition. The team will compete at the Navy National Air Rifle JROTC championships in Utah this weekend.
The THS NJROTC Orienteering Team has proven to be a top contender in Area 13 as well after having competed with Bay Area Orienteering Clubs and Gold Country Orienteering Clubs from Truckee to Santa Cruz. The team will compete during the NJROTC National Championship in Washington in March.
The THS NRJOTC Academic Team will travel to Maryland in April for the Navy National Academic Competition as the reigning Area 13 Academic Champion. The academic team is also undefeated in “Brain Brawl” competitions this school year.
“The academic team focuses essentially on knowledge of naval history, oceanography and geography and we compete in a Jeopardy-style quiz show,” said McCann, who is involved in the academic and orienteering teams. “Last year, we actually ended up going to nationals in Daytona and placing fourth.”
The THS cadets have also performed over 1,300 hours of community service this year so far, which equates to over 10 hours per student. This month, the cadets will serve at a Disabled Veterans benefit dinner in Turlock and a Disabled Veterans Social and Dance in Manteca, feed the homeless with Turlock’s Salvation Army, and volunteer at two events with the Turlock Community Theater.
“Needless to say, the Turlock Navy JROTC program is making a positive impact on the community and the lives of young men and women of Turlock,” said LCDR Carlos Montanez, USN Ret.