Bright future ahead

Soledad High School senior Brian Sanchez is the first in his family to go to college and hopes to encourage his younger siblings. (Photo by Samantha Bengtson)

Soledad senior earns full-ride scholarship to University of Maine

SOLEDAD — Soledad senior Brian Sanchez has earned a full ride to the University of Maine in Orono after four years as part of the Soledad High School Navy JROTC program.

Sanchez has a 4.45 GPA, which has enabled him to apply to six Universities of California, two private colleges and the University of Maine. Sanchez had a strong motivation to earn the scholarship from the University of Maine due to the amount of debt students are completing school with currently.

To complete his application for the university scholarship, Sanchez had to submit his SAT scores, letters of recommendation from his senior naval science instructor, an application and write essays all within four days. He ended up submitting the application a day late.

Then, he got a phone call from the captain in Maine who told him he would accept his application, but there were some things he needed to work on. Sanchez enlisted the aid of his English teacher, Heather Durham, for help with his essay and resubmitted his application.

“A week later I got a call from the captain who said ‘Congratulations’,” Sanchez said. “I was really happy.”

Out of 100 applicants, Sanchez was one of 10 to receive the scholarship.

“I feel like my hard work paid off after these four years of trying my hardest in school, the program and all the activities I do,” he said.

The scholarship requires that Sanchez maintain a 2.8 GPA to continue with the scholarship for all four years. After the four years, he would be able to join the Navy as a commissioned officer.

Sanchez’s interest in the Navy JROTC program began in middle school after he saw cadets spinning rifles. He was “wowed” by the cadets and thought it looked fun and took a lot of skill.

“When they started talking about it, I was afraid of what my parents would think,” Sanchez said. “I wanted to be part of it because they talked about community service, and I need community service.”

After four years, he gained more than 250 community service hours and became an officer in the JROTC program. The program was not always easy for Sanchez, he wanted to be part of the armed team, but that proved challenging when he struggled with spinning rifles.

After spending time as part of the color guard, Sanchez said he improved. He was part of the color guard, armed drilling, armed exhibition, academic team and the physical fitness team.

“The instructors told me if I had bad grades I wouldn’t be able to go to the competitions, and that really motivated me to get even better grades,” Sanchez said. 

Around school, classmates and teachers began talking to Sanchez about his performance, reflecting on what he could do in the future, which college he could go to and the programs he would be up for.


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