Westmont Magazine They're in the Army Now
Two Westmont Students Earn Prestigious Four-year ROTC Scholarships
Two Westmont freshmen have received rare four-year scholarships through the Army ROTC at UC Santa Barbara. Jared Madrazo of Seattle, Wash., and Jesse Cornett of Central Point, Ore., are juggling their school work while taking part in rigorous training three days a week as members of the Surfrider Battalion.
Jesse and Jared say the financial incentive to join ROTC was important but not the overriding factor in their decision to sign up for the military and attend Westmont.
“I feel very called to this,” says Jesse, who graduated from a private Christian high school in Oregon. “It’s not something to be entered into lightly. It’s a big commitment. You have to know what you’re getting into afterward. But if you’re willing to accept that, it’s a very good path.”
In exchange for receiving four years of tuition, Jesse and Jared are required to serve four years active duty and then four years in the reserve. “I wouldn’t be able to go to Westmont without ROTC,” says Jared, who had decided to accept a full scholarship from Seattle University. Several weeks later, the Army offered him the four-year scholarship to attend Westmont. “I felt God was telling me to come here. I was praying about it and the scholarship was a big reason, too.”
Major Michael Salvo has been impressed with the two. “They’re physically fit, bright and dedicated,” he says. “And they want to serve.”
The Surfrider Battalion includes four dozen recruits from area colleges. Along with physical training three days a week and a military science course, the group is involved in a lab that focuses on squad tactics, land navigation and command structure. They have also participated in a two-night field training exercise
Both students have brothers who served in the military: Jesse’s is a retired Army ranger and Jared’s is in the Marines. “My brother helped me with my decision,” Jared says. “And my parents encouraged me. They said if that’s what you want to do, then that’s definitely a good way to go. But don’t do it just because you’re getting the scholarship.”
Jared is majoring in business. After serving in the military, he hopes to begin a career in criminal justice or become an FBI agent. Jesse is pursuing a double-major in psychology and communication studies. He says his first semester has been rewarding. “It’s forced me to think and grow a lot personally. I’ve had to examine what I believe and why I believe it. It’s been a very interesting learning experience having to adapt to living with people I’ve never met before. It forces you to learn a lot more about yourself and your own faults and to be a little less self-centered.”