RAYNE, La. --
RAYNE, La. -- Each year, roughly 1,300 young men and women apply for the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) Scholarship. Those who are nominated through the highly competitive national selection process receive full tuition, a books stipend, educational fees, and other financial benefits at many of the country's leading colleges and universities.
Michael Johnson, a Rayne, Louisiana, native and sophomore at Louisiana State University, won the $180,000 scholarship in 2018. His desire to serve in the military was influenced by his grandfather, a U.S. Navy veteran, who served in World War II.
“My grandfather was my biggest inspiration to pursue the military. The way he carried himself and the way he lived his life – you can tell was a result of his military experience. He was just a great man,” said Johnson.
During his junior year of high school, Johnson had a conversation about his future with his brother, Tim, who is a midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. His brother urged him to look into the U.S. Naval Academy or talk to a recruiter.
Although Johnson always knew he wanted to be an officer in the military, he initially pursued serving as an enlisted Marine until he learned about the NROTC program.
“Within 20 minutes of the phone call with the recruiter about the NROTC scholarship, I knew that was exactly what I wanted to do,” said Johnson. “Once they offered the opportunity to start my career with a challenge, the challenge to become an officer first, I figured it was probably the best opportunity for me.”
College students who are accepted into the NROTC program assume more responsibility than the average student. They attend physical training in the morning two to three times per week and take military-related studies on top of their traditional course load, along with attending various military training events throughout each semester.
“We’re a lot busier,” said Johnson. “We do not have as much time as regular college students, but I think the biggest benefit from that is accountability. We learn the balance between military and civilian life early on. Being able to develop that self-discipline and learn how to balance everything was one of the biggest challenges I faced initially, and it’s something students will only find in NROTC.”
Johnson said he believes people who aspire to be Marine Corps or Navy officers will be most prepared for their military career by pursuing the NROTC program.
“Getting to spend four years around people who have the same mindset and being exposed to your enlisted and officer advisors is something you won’t get going through other officer programs,” said Johnson. “I’ve learned a lot in the three semesters that I’ve been in the program. Being able to see the enlisted side and the officer side of both the Navy and the Marine Corps and being able to learn from them has been beneficial.”
His advice for young men and women who are looking to apply for the scholarship is to focus on their physical fitness, their academics, and their humility. Additionally, he emphasizes the importance of getting letters of recommendation to set themselves apart from other applicants.
To learn more about the NROTC scholarship, visit https://www.netc.navy.mil/NSTC/NROTC/ or contact your local Marine Corps recruiting office.