By CAPT Roy Love, USN
I can’t for the life of me understand why the Navy is not getting sufficient applicants for Navy ROTC scholarships. Each year, hundreds of scholarships go unutilized, while people struggle to pay for their college education and rack up thousands of dollars in loans.
As a minority, a child of immigrants, and an Afro Latino, I understand what it is like for parents to worry about how to get their children to college. My parents certainly couldn’t afford to send four of us to College at the same time. The enlisted force in the US Navy is representative of our society, but our Officer force lags significantly in minority representation. We need role models and leaders that represent our society. Our Sailors need to be able to look up and see leaders that look like them. We simply do not have enough African American, Latino, and female Officers right now. The impact you can make on your community cannot be understated. We need you, young men and women, to come and lead our diverse force.
So, why can’t we get people to apply for these extraordinary opportunities? I’m asking the young men and women of America, what keeps you from joining the Navy as an Officer? Do you mean being a diehard American patriot is not a good enough reason? The fact that the US NAVY is the premier Naval Force in the world, with the most advanced ships and weaponry in history, is not enough? Or maybe the prospect of someday becoming a hero fighting the mighty Chinese Dragon and Russian Bear armies in a World War Three PlayStation Call of Duty like super awesome real-life sea battle is not appealing!
How about getting some extraordinary life skills? Abilities that will prepare you for the rest of your life? ROTC will help you build confidence, learn how to become part of a team, make lifelong friends, get really fit, learn to respect yourself and others, and become the leader most leadership coaches and writers are always talking about! Ladies and gentlemen, you will make your parents proud!
Is it about money? How about up to $180k to pay for your four-year college education? How about a monthly stipend to put some hard cash in your pockets? Yes, really!
NO?! So, how can I convince you to take advantage of all of these Naval scholarships we just can’t give away?
What if I told you that after thirty-plus years in the Navy, I am retiring with an awesome pension, never have to work again if I don’t want to, have beaucoup dollars in the bank, five motorcycles, two cars, a beautiful house, because I sold the last two I had, a Bachelors degree and a Masters degree I paid absolutely nothing for. Oh yeah, and the GI Bill for one of my kids to go to college free, and also had enough to save and fund a 529 for the other one! Look, I know money isn’t everything. As a matter of fact, I give mine away all the time. I send money to my mom every month, I buy whatever I want on Amazon, I give money to charity when I feel like it, and anyone who asks me for money in the streets gets hooked up with at least a dollar! Hell, I’ll give you the shirt off my back if you ask for it. But only if you are also in the Navy or went to SUNY Maritime! Ok, and if you really need it too. You do have to admit that financial security is important, and your parents will definitely appreciate you not thinning their bank account!
What about travel? Do you like to travel? I have been to 68 countries in the world, almost every state in the US, crossed every ocean, crossed the equator too many times to count, transited the Straights of Magellan, crossed the Panama Canal like 15 times, crossed the Suez Canal, traveled the Straits of Malacca, been to the Indian Ocean, The Red Sea, the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, crossed the English Channel, visited a bunch of Scandinavian countries I can’t name, went into Tito’s train in the old Yugoslavia (look that up, it’s cool), and traveled up and down the coast of Italy, Turkey, Croatia, and Romania, with a bunch of Marines doing stuff most people dream about.
What about people? Do you like people? COVID sure has put a damper on connecting, unless you’re in the world’s most awesome Navy! Look, while most people are stuck at home “teleworking”, I still go to work every day, and our Sailors, they’re living their best life with all their best friends! I have to tell you though, in all my years in the Navy I have made thousands of friends and collected a ton of cool memories and booty from all over. And by booty, I mean swag, you gutter-minded polywogs! If you join the Navy, you’ll know what that means. I got stuff you have never seen before, one of a kind, not made in China, unique things you can only get in the streets of Talcahuano, Chile, a vendor’s alley in Thailand, a boutique in Singapore, or the jungle in Colombia! That’s how I roll, and you can too!
Want to hear some cool stuff. I climbed Sugarloaf Mountain in Brazil, rode a bike up the highest mountain in Townsville Australia, bolted through the rural roads of Goa India and Sri Lanka, got a flat riding across the Highway of the Americas in Costa Rica, and another one riding across the island of Curacao, swam in the azure waters of Aruba and La Orchila in the Caribbean, got lost in the Pacific jungles of Guam with the Hash House Harriers, and enjoyed some beautiful scenic rides in Palau and Vanuatu! Yeah, those are all real places!
Did I mention that I got to meet astronaut Scott Kelly (fellow SUNY Maritime grad!), movie stars like Gary Sinise, John Krasinski, George Takei, Michael B. Jordan, and Mark Wahlberg, superstar baseball, basketball, and football athletes, X games stars, a bunch of cool city mayors, governors, like hundreds of high-level government bubbas, Donald Trump, Spike Lee, Cuba Gooding Junior, the TUSKEGEE AIRMEN! Yeah, the real ones! And on one of the best days of my career, I got to escort an awesome US Navy World War Two Pearl Harbor survivor, Mr. Andy Mills, while he was in DC.
Yeah, all that and I also learned a ton of awesome skills. Besides getting to attend the top Merchant Marine Academy and sailing on Merchant Vessels with some crazy son of a gun merchant mariners, the Navy taught me how to be a Firefighter, Policeman, Gunnery Officer, Communications Officer, Weapons Officer, Operations Officer, Biker (yeah, they paid for my motorcycle classes!), Motorcycle Instructor (that was the city of Virginia, thank you very much!), Executive Officer, Captain of a Ship, Commander of a Training School, and Commander of the Second largest Surface Base in the world!! All that, and they paid me to do it! Yes, it is cool to be me. And no, I would not trade my life for any other.
So, how do you get this deal? This year, you can apply before January 31st at https://www.netc.navy.mil/Commands/Naval-Service-Training-Command/NROTC/Requirements/
I promise you:
- A great education at the school of your choice (but you have to get accepted on your own and it has to have an NROTC unit).
- Invaluable Leadership Skills
- Extraordinary Teamwork skills
- Unparalleled ethics and responsibility development
- Analytical Thinking – Plus Calculus and Physics.
- Resilience building and strengthening of coping abilities
- Becoming a responsible citizen and public servant
So, where can you go to school? High profile universities like Harvard, Yale, and most Ivy League colleges offer ROTC, along with Stanford, MIT, Tufts, Berkeley, Duke, Georgetown, Bucknell, and Johns Hopkins. I personally went to SUNY Maritime, a Merchant marine Academy with an ROTC unit serving Columbia University and Fordham University in New York. All three are great schools. There are many others all across the US. Check the website!
For a more comprehensive list of the types of scholarships and what they offer visit https://www.military.com/join-armed-forces/rotc-scholarships-navy.html
And if you want to know more, look me up on LINKEDIN!
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