So often in life people are asked to try something usually with the phrase, “you don’t know, you just may like it,” attached to encourage the individual’s participation.
JROTC Cadet Capt. Nikkolle Warren knows that statement of encouragement all too well and thanks to her belief in those words and her hard work and determination, she was presented the Legion of Valor Bronze Cross for Achievement Award at Monday evening’s Sedalia School District 200 Board of Education meeting.
The most prestigious JROTC award given in the nation, it is designed to be awarded to one cadet in every 100 schools that host a JROTC program.
“It was the first day of my senior year and I was already excited to be here and see what the year would bring,” Warren said. “Then my JROTC instructors asked me to come to the front of the classroom and they told me of my selection.
“I was speechless because this was such an incredible honor,” she added. “I truly did not feel I would be chosen for this.”
The honor actually is four years in the making, according to Warren, and began her freshman year at Smith-Cotton.
“I had always known what JROTC was, but in many ways I was scared to join because I thought it was really just for people who were interested in the military,” Warren said. “I wasn’t sure I would like it but I decided to try and the more I learned and became involved with the program, the more I fell in love with it.
“Our instructors and the cadets in the program all care about each other and we all work together and want to help one another,” she added. “We all stick together and work for the benefit of each other and our community.”
Warren said there are many benefits to enlisting in the program including the emphasis on academic work and success.
“Every day of class, we begin with an ACT Prep activity,” Warren said. “We all focus on our academics, which is something our commanders emphasize to us daily.
“I think one of the other areas I have progressed is my leadership skills,” she added. “I was really shy and scared when I started this but then I realized we really all are a family and we care for one another, which helped me gain more confidence.”
That confidence, along with her nurturing skills and caring attitude for others, are some of the characteristics Lt. Col. U.S. Army (Ret.) Harry Cunningham, Senior Army Instructor at Smith-Cotton High School, said he feels Warren exemplifies daily.
“Nikkolle joined the JROTC program in her freshman year and immediately established herself as a leader,” Cunningham wrote in his letter of recommendation for the award. “She has taken care of younger cadets her entire JROTC career, and developed into a magnificent leader.
“… because of her unique blend of wisdom, compassion and her demand for excellence, she was selected to serve as battalion executive officer during her senior year,” he continued. “In this capacity she will be able to lead and train the entire battalion staff to excellence.”
Warren is no stranger to hard work as she is not only the battalion executive officer but is also the treasurer of S-C National Honor Society and serves as the captain of the varsity cheerleaders this year.
Although still undecided on her choice of a college, Warren said she knows she will enter the medical field upon her graduation from S-C and is considering the fields of nursing or surgery.
“I have thought about enlisting in ROTC in college but I have more things I need to consider before I make that decision,” Warren said. “I do know that if I could offer a recommendation to other students it’s that they should try the JROTC program.
“Everyone who is a part of the program tries to give back to the district and our community, we really try to make an impact for others,” she added. “It is very busy and very challenging but it is an amazing experience and it is worth it because it and the friendships are something that they will never forget.”
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484.