David Crockett High School senior Katelyn Curley can’t imagine her what her high school career would’ve been like if she hadn’t joined the school’s Navy JROTC program.
All of Curley’s hard work in the program over the last 18 months paid off as she was the recipient of the U.S. Air Force ROTC Commander’s Leadership Scholarship, a prestigious scholarship worth more than $100,000.
The scholarship will cover Curley’s college tuition at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and the majority of her fees. She will also receive a monthly stipend.
Rather than waiting for several days to hear about the status of her application, Curley was offered the scholarship in the interview room, a pretty rare occurrence for the type of scholarship for which she had applied.
“He just said I impressed him enough where he said he can’t imagine finding someone who would meet all the requirements,” she said.
After completing an extensive application process, Curley sat through the interview at UT. The interviewer was impressed with her 4.0 GPA, leadership experience, community service and her commitment to the Air Force.
“They really just wanted to see what my intentions are. Some people will go in and get that scholarship and they just do the minimum four years they have to be in the Air Force, then all that money is wasted,” she said. “They invest in people giving them that scholarship so they stay and work in the Air Force. That was definitely my intention. I’m in ... as long as I can.”
Curley moved to the area three years ago from Kansas after her father retired from the Army.
“We lived on a military base at Fort Leavenworth and when we moved here, I just missed the military,” she said.
After trying several other clubs and organizations, Curley started thinking about her future and what she wanted to do with her post-high school career.
All of the answers kept pointing to JROTC and pursuing a career in engineering through the Air Force.
“I joined ROTC to see if I would like it and get a little taste of the military ... and I loved it. The best decision I ever made. ROTC has been my whole life since I joined,” she said.
With the scholarship under her belt, Curley is excited she can complete the rest of her senior year without the added stress of trying to figure out what kind of career she is going to pursue.
“As soon as I’m done, I’ll be an officer in the Air Force. I won’t be starting at the beginning. I’ll be a second lieutenant and I’ll be in my career that I wanted to be in. I’m dead-set on this career. There’s no uncertainty,” she said.