Mundy's Mill JROTC cadet headed to honors camp

Photo by Heather Middleton

Photo by Heather Middleton

Even though she has not sent in her admissions application, Mundy's Mill High School junior, Tiana Williams, is already telling people she will attend Harvard University, beginning in 2011.

Williams, 17, who has a 3.885 grade-point average, said Harvard is the school — the only school, in fact — that she truly has her heart set on. She plans to study either education, or theology.

"The school I will be attending is Harvard University, and I plan to submit my application soon," Williams said. "That is where I really want to go to school. I'm planning for anything, but hoping for the best."

But, accomplishing a goal as lofty as getting accepted to Harvard, may not be that difficult for Williams, who is a cadet lieutenant colonel with Mundy's Mill's Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps unit. This spring, she applied to, and was accepted into, the U.S. Air Force JROTC Aerospace and Technology Honors Camp program.

And, getting accepted into that program is no small feat for a cadet to accomplish, according to a written memorandum that Air Force JROTC director, Col. Richard J. Ragaller, sent to local unit commanders when the accepted cadets were announced. Only the top cadets in the nation will attend the camp, he said.

The honors camp's selection board picked 432 cadets, out of 913 who had been nominated by their units, Ragaller wrote in the memorandum. The cadets were graded on their academic performances, demonstrated leadership in JROTC, and in the community, their college and career goals, and endorsements from the senior aerospace science instructors at their schools, according to the memorandum.

"The board had a very difficult task, taking the top 1 percent of all AFJROTC cadets, and selecting only 432 to attend honors camp," Ragaller wrote. "Selectees represent the top one-half of 1 percent, of over 110,000 AFJROTC cadets."

She will attend a week-long medical version of the honors camp at the University of Oklahoma, which is located in Norman, Okla., June 19-24. She said she found out she had been accepted into the program from Mundy's Mill JROTC commander, Lt. Col. Raymond "Sky" King, just before the unit headed to a state drill meet in Villa Rica, late last month.

"I was shocked, really shocked, when he told me I had been accepted," Williams said.

The cadet said she applied to attend the honors camp because she liked "the competitiveness of it, and how it is not easy to get accepted into the program." She said she specifically applied to attend the medical honors camp to learn how medicine is used by the U.S. Air Force.

King said he is not surprised that Williams has been accepted into the honors camp program. Out of the four cadets he endorsed, Williams was his top endorsement, he said. She was also the only cadet from the school selected to attend the camp.

Cadet Lt. Col. Williams is the deputy wing commander for Mundy's Mill's JROTC unit, as well as the commander of the unit's command team, where she trains the younger cadets, who are vying for a command position for next year. She is also a member of the unit's Unarmed Regulation Drill Team, which finished second in the nation at a competition involving JROTC programs from all military branches earlier this year.

King praised Williams' commitment to everything she works on, including her academics. He referred to the cadet as "a college student in a high school student's body."

"She has a maturation level beyond her years, as evidenced by her commitment, and dedication to success and excellence," King said.

Evidence of Williams' commitment to aiming high can be found in the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) she took last month. Her score was a 1420 (out of a possible 2400), but she is quick to point out that this was the first time, since the seventh grade, that she has taken the test. She added that this was never meant to be the one, and only, time she took the test.

"That was my practice round, so I could see what I needed to work on," Williams said. "Now, I'm going to pick up the preparation materials, and study hard to take it for real."

King said the cadets at Mundy's Mill who learn about being a commander from Williams will have a lot expected from them, specifically because they had her as their teacher. "Anybody who follows in her footsteps will have big shoes to fill," King said. "I expect them to meet the bar that she has set before them."