The Junior Reserve Officer’s Training Corps – or JROTC – is a military regulated high school program that seeks to educate high school students in leadership roles while also raising their awareness of the benefits of citizenship.  Their mission is to motivate young people to become better American citizens, and what better way to accomplish that than by also giving them the powerful tools provided through The Way to Happiness?

JROTC Scholarship Competition

Many high school students can appreciate the benefits of leading honest and healthy lives.  The problem in actually leading such a life often lies in lacking the tools by which one can live happily. The purpose of The Way to Happiness booklet is to provide individuals, including adolescents, with twenty-one easy to understand and apply precepts that truly do improve one’s own life, as well as the lives of others around them.  The greatest power in this booklet, however, is in how an individual shares these precepts with others.

In April 2015, Harlingen Family Dentistry in Harlingen, Texas hosted their 8th annual values-based scholarship competition.  Participating students were acknowledged and given awards for their various community projects, which incorporated both precepts from The Way to Happiness as well as JROTC Core Values.  Schools from across the entire Rio Grande Valley participated in this competition, and the three winners will share a total of $6,000 in scholarships when they register in the institutions of higher learning of their choice.  Members of local high school JROTC programs presented various activities that they have designed, with the common goal being to work together in order to make the world a better place.

The lead judge of all entries was Major General Charles Rodriguez, who is Chief of Staff and Vice President of Texas A&M San Antonio.  With the help of five judges of military rank, including Tech Sergeant Dalia Cortez, 2nd Lt. Robert Dunkin, E4 Specialist Juan Ortega, Tech Sergeant Esteban Mejia Jr and Staff Sergeant Victor Yanez, he assessed the quality and results of each student’s project.

All participants received certificates of commendation from US Congressman Filemon Vela, US Senator Ted Cruz and Texas State Representative Eddy Lucio.  These certificates congratulated the participants on their efforts, and celebrated their commitment to improving the quality of life in their local communities.  The First Place winner was Harlingen High School student Lucia Arellano, who focused her project on the importance of reporting and preventing sexual assault and its damaging consequences.  Arellano applied The Way to Happiness precepts “Set a Good Example”, “Love and Help Children”, and “Try to Treat Others as You Would Want Them to Treat You” as well as the Army Core Values of Duty, Respect and Selfless Service, Integrity and Personal Courage as she promoted Sexual Assault Awareness and organized the JROTC Stop Child Abuse/Assault 5K Run in Harlingen.  The Second Place winner was Harlingen High School South student Tanya Cruz, who focused her project on helping children.  Cruz applied The Way to Happiness precept “Love and Help Children” as well as Air Force Core Values of Integrity, Service and Excellence as she implemented community service events such as blood drives, canned food drives, field trips and other events.  She performed roughly one hundred twenty hours of community service and raised one hundred fifteen pints of blood, and further helped her community by teaching Sunday School and other church activities for children.  The Third Place winner was Roma High School student Myra Solis, who focused her project on helping members of her community with their income taxes.  Solis applied The Way to Happiness precept “Fulfill Your Obligations” as well as Army Core Value Leadership by getting trained in tax preparation, maintaining over one hundred Cadet personnel folders, and preparing the unit for the Veteran’s Day Ceremony, the Baseball Little League Color Guard, the Special Olympics and the Autism Awareness Walk.

Dr. Juan Villareal of Harlingen Family Dentistry points out that all participants worked very hard to contribute to their community, and in that way, they are all winners.  The communities they’ve helped to influence and improve are proud and grateful for all their help, and look forward to more wonderful projects in the future.