The Student News Site of Chisholm Trail High School

The Ranger Record

The Student News Site of Chisholm Trail High School

The Ranger Record

The Student News Site of Chisholm Trail High School

The Ranger Record

Cadets: JROTC fosters leadership skills


Those four days were brutal.

From hours doing all sorts of physical activity to countless superiors screaming commands in her face, somehow the nerves never left her. They quickly mixed with a strange thrill. Senior Cdt. Jayden Westerlund said her time at the cadet leadership course shaped her into a better leader for the AFJROTC.

“It comes with a lot of opportunities and responsibility,” Westerlund said. “It sets you up to be a more open person, and it makes talking to people less nerve-racking.”

Those tough aspects of the JROTC corps wasn’t something freshman Cdt. Lillian Gonzalez expected when she signed up for the organization, but she said she is grateful to be a part.

“Originally, I joined because it was an easy PE credit,” Gonzalez said. “When I was in it, I realized how fun the people there are, and it aligns with my career in the future.”

JROTC Col. Tobin Griffeth works to create a sense of camaraderie with the students in the corps to ultimately help create a better society through the different avenues people can take after joining the organization.

“I’m a lawyer, I’m also a colonel,” Griffeth said. “I had plenty of offers for much higher paying things, but it wasn’t the money that interested me. What interested me was helping others and doing what I thought was right to make this country a better place.”

One of his cadets, junior Zaraeya Chruiyot said the skills she’s learned are easily transferable to other fields, and she is open to fostering this spirit of service.

“I plan to take my skills to college,” Chruiyot said. “I plan to do 20 years in the military and afterward open up pediatric hospitals around the US.”

While in JROTC, Westerlund said the expectation is for all cadets to dedicate their time to the organization and demonstrate the values of to corps in their everyday life.

“I’m mostly looking for cadets to be there and want to participate in events,” Westerlund said. “I  want to see how the cadets are acting around, their participation in and how they are providing for the corps.”

As the squadron leader, Westerlund said she is expected to be present, uniformed and an example for all cadets, which Chruiyot said has helped inspire her.

“It shaped me because it showed me better leadership skills, how to be a leader and how to take charge of things when no one else is and stepping outside my comfort zone,” Cheruiyot said.

Gonzalez said the leaders in the organization have encouraged her to grow her confidence and responsibility through JROTC.

“Without JROTC I would’ve been a lot more shy because it helps you with speech and being able to talk with others,” Gonzalez said. “I learned I wanted to be more responsible and do more so I can help to shape the next people coming in for JROTC.”

Griffeth stresses the full skillset JROTC teaches, from finance to leadership, and the importance of good followership to become a great leader.

“The biggest part is, like I said, teaching and also leadership, and teaching them also followership because you can’t be a good leader,” Griffeth said. “If you’re not a good follower, everybody wants to suddenly jump to the top, and that’s not the way it works in the real world, you learn the rules, you follow the rules, you be a productive member, and then you start to teach the things that you’ve learned.”

Griffeth’s dedication to service beyond financial rewards sets an example to JROTC members. Cdt. sophomore Zaraeya Chruiyot is following Giffeth’s example, as she plans to open pediatric hospitals after she serves in the military.

“I want to open hospitals so I can help other people,” Chruiyot said. “I hope that my experience in the military will help me be an effective manager for the hospitals in the future.”

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