LRHS senior gets school’s first Air Force scholarship

Adina Mayo – Mustangs Ahead

(LAKEWOOD RANCH, FL)- “JROTC has played a huge role in my life. It has taught me so many valuable skills and what it means to be a leader,” said LRHS Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) Battalion S3 Cadet Major Lael Dabney, senior.

debney to airforce
LRHS senior Lael Dabney is capping off a successful JROTC career.

“I have made lifelong friends, and I’ve become better mentally and physically,” Dabney continued. “It has also taken me out of my comfort zone and taught me initiative. It’s taught me to not be afraid to aim high myself.”

Dabney was recently offered a four-year Air Force ROTC scholarship. She’s the first LRHS JROTC cadet to receive such an offer and will attend the University of South Florida (USF).

“I applied on the Air Force website after looking at their options for high school students,” Dabney explained. “I had to do my whole application online, a physical fitness test, and I had to be interviewed. I’m actually creating a guide for Lt. Colonel Roller to help future students that may be interested.”

The military path isn’t something Dabney has taken lightly.

“I decided I wanted to go into the military at the start of high school,” stated Dabney. “JROTC really influenced my decision. I really enjoyed all the valuable skills I’ve learned over the years, and I feel that going into the military will give me great leadership opportunities and let me give back to my country.”

Dabney only recently decided on the Air Force. She said, “I actually applied to both the Army and the Air Force. I decided on the Air Force before the start of my senior year because it opens my options for what path I want to take in the future.

“All branches of the military are good paths to take, but I feel the Air Force could get me to where I want to go in the future,” Dabney continued.

LRHS JROTC instructor Lt. Col Richard Roller said, “Any time a student’s efforts are recognized, arguably on a national basis, it’s an accomplishment for the program. It’s rewarding and shows that the program is continually growing and helps students in their future.”

Roller continued, “She earned it. She did the work, and [the program] was just an avenue to help her along the path.”

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