In May 6 IssueBy Derek AaronTimes Journal Reporter
Amy Passmore, a high-ranking member of the Russell County High School Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps, has received a prestigious four-year, $180,000 Navy ROTC scholarship to attend Vanderbilt University in Nashville.
“Vanderbilt was my top choice but I didn't expect to get into it so it was a really nice surprise,” Passmore said.
The process began earlier this school year when Passmore, who scored a 30 on her ACT, applied for the scholarship, which will cover tuition with her also receiving a monthly stipend of $250 to cover living costs.
“I tried to get in a school close to home because I didn't want to be too far away,” Passmore said.
Throughout the application process, the Navy looks at overall GPA, letters of recommendation, test scores and class ranking, among other items, when choosing a deserving recipient.
“The Navy offers several different avenues to pursue a commission as an officer in the United States Navy,” said Cpt. Bob King, the NJROTC’s senior naval science instructor. This scholarship is one of those ways.
“She had to be accepted to Vanderbilt first, then apply for the ROTC scholarship,” he said.
Since she was accepted and her scholarship awarded, there was one final kink that was worked out last week. Passmore had discovered she was allergic to latex earlier this year and had to receive a medical waiver for her to receive her scholarship. When the waiver was received last week, Passmore said she felt a relief like she never had felt before.
Now she can get down to business as she visited the university back in March.
“It is a really pretty school,” she said. “There are a lot of trees and squirrels that remind me of home.”
She will begin moving into the freshman dorms at Vanderbilt in mid-August.
“I'll have my regular classes and then ROTC will be on the side,” she said. “The main thing will be keeping in shape because twice a year I'm going to have to pass a physical test, so it is not just brains.”
At first, Passmore said she didn't know if she wanted to attend college, but after meeting with Navy recruiter Chief Brian Parks out of Somerset, she decided that she wanted to go to college.
After being sworn into the Navy in June 2009, she was set to leave for boot camp this summer before she applied for and landed the scholarship after being pushed by Parks, Cpt. King, and Senior Chief Steven Kinder.
She had applied to several other schools with ROTC programs and was accepted to each of them before she heard back from Vanderbilt, but she kept waiting on that call to come, and it did.
“There are a lot of friends that I have that are very jealous and I understand,” she said. “A full ride to Vanderbilt doesn't come along often.”
The new recruiters in Somerset, petty officer 1st class James Ellis and petty officer 2nd class Chad Grinnell, also helped her in the latter stages of her recruitment.
“I'm going to be so homesick because Russell County is so small and Nashville is so big,” she said. She did say the university seemed very tight-knit and was looking forward to making new friends next school year.
After graduating from Vanderbilt, she will be commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Navy and be required to serve six years.
Following that she wants to attend medical school and work in nuclear medicine in hopes of working on cancer treatments.
“She is the first cadet we've had in 10 years to receive a Navy ROTC scholarship,” King said. “It takes a very good math and science background because these guys have to be capable of being a nuclear engineer ... it is so academically rigorous.
Last summer, Passmore attended the Aerospace and Technology Leadership Seminar at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona, Fla., an experience that helped her decide that this was the path she should follow.
King and Kinder have been pushing her the entire way in hopes of seeing her reach her potential.
“If it weren't for those two I would have never made it to this point,” Passmore said. She credited them and the high school's NJROTC for affording her this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Passmore also has a twin sister, Jamie, who will attend Lindsey Wilson College in the fall as well as one older brother, Barry.
Passmore said her parents, Dennville and Melissa Passmore, are extremely proud of her for this accomplishment and look forward to having their daughters attend college this fall.