With the end of the school year so close, it is time for awards and recognitions. And despite not yet being able to hold traditional in-person ceremonies, schools are finding ways for students to be honored.
On Friday, May 14, Lt. Col. John Murray, instructor for the JROTC program at Cranston High School East, presented several cadets with awards.
Chriselly Cuadrado received the U.S. Army Cadet Command Superior Cadet Medal for her selection as the top senior cadet in East’s JROTC program.
“There is a lot of prestige that goes into this award. There is no higher JROTC award to be given other than the lifesaving award,” Murray said.
Christopher Sparks gave the Sons of the American Revolution Bronze Award to Alexis Franco, who also received the U.S. Army Cadet Command Superior Cadet Medal for her selection as the top sophomore cadet in East’s JROTC program.
J’ly Khea was presented with the Sons of the American Revolution State Award, which carries a $500 monetary gift, and the Vietnam Veterans of America Award, which comes with with a $150 monetary gift.
The awards Khea was presented with were the result of a long and laborious application process.
“As for applying for these awards, you have to be a JROTC cadet who is in the junior class,” Khea said. “An essay is required which should answer prompts such as ‘how JROTC has prepared me to become a better citizen.’ The essay should include the skills that have been acquired from participating in the program and how you used it to become a better citizen. You must reflect on your years in the program to help answer the prompt.”
Khea is a junior in high school and has been participating in the JROTC program for three years.
“I was recently promoted to cadet captain and was able to have the opportunity to apply for both the Rhode Island Society of the Sons of the American Revolution award and the Rhode Island Vietnam Veterans of America award,” he said. “I try my best to take in any opportunities that can possibly help pay for college. I am an honors student and try my best to maintain my GPA [currently 3.8].”
Khea reflected on his years in JROTC in his award applications.
“I looked at how I gained skills such as team-building skills, leadership skills, and my citizenship in the community. I then wrote paragraphs about how I was able to implement these skills into my community to help build myself and build others around me as well,” he said.
What would Khea tell others who are interested in joining JROTC? Give it a shot.
“This program can really take you to great heights and even better yourself as an individual,” he said. “Honestly, when I first enrolled into this program, I really had no idea where it would take me. My first year was rough, but then I was able to pick up leadership positions which boosted my morale to climb the leadership ladder. Sophomore year, I held the position of platoon leader, which was the highest position a sophomore can hold. Junior year, I now hold the position of company executive officer.”
Khea has been an active member of his school community throughout his time as a Cranston Public Schools student. At Gladstone Elementary, he was a member of the Student Council and a major part of the school’s newspaper. At Hugh B. Bain Middle School, he spent a year on the Student Council and played violin in the orchestra. He continues to play the violin at East.
In addition to his academic focus, JROTC duties and musical activities, Khea found time during the pandemic to do some community service.
“Community service is important as well,” he said. “With the COVID-19 pandemic, I had the opportunity to put my health at risk and aid the Miriam Hospital by becoming a volunteer. My role as a volunteer at the hospital was in the patient care equipment department, where I was to clean and sanitize patient equipment. This included IV poles, IV machines, breast pumps, and many more. I spent at least 84 hours in the hospital aiding as a volunteer.”
Khea has always been interested in the medical field. And just recently, was awarded a full scholarship from Brown University’s Medical Pathways Program to participate in the summer pre-college program.
“I plan on taking medical ethics while attending the program,” he said. “As for careers, I jumped from wanting to become an anesthesiologist, to wanting to pursue certified registered nurse anesthetists, and finally a physician assistant. I now am determined to pursue a career in physician assistant studies and hopefully become a PA who is specialized in emergency medicine.”
Currently, Khea has set his eyes on attending the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences for its Accelerated Master’s of Physician Assistant Studies program.