Amid the hundreds of students who proudly walked the stage May 30 at Turlock High’s graduation ceremony were hundreds of reasons to smile. After all, many of the teenagers were headed off to exciting destinations, top-notch colleges and promising careers.
One graduate in particular, 18-year-old Bryson Curtin, certainly has a scintillating future ahead of him. The four-year member of the Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps recently became the first Turlock High student to receive a $180,000 Marine Corps Scholarship. Only a handful of scholarships of this magnitude are awarded by the Marines each year.
Bryson will use the scholarship to attend Norwich University, a private military academy in Vermont, where he will study international relations. Following his time at the university, Bryson will pursue a career as a second lieutenant in the Marines under a six-year contract.
He’s elated at the prospects because he’s now one step closer to fulfilling a longtime aspiration. “In high school, and even before, I was always working on this scholarship,” Bryson says. “This scholarship means that the Marine Corps believes in me, and to me, that is a humbling and great honor.”
But it hasn’t always been the smoothest road to reach this point. Being a part of Turlock High’s rigorous NJROTC required Bryson to increase his fitness and hone his academic, leadership and teamwork skills. The NJROTC program also is keen on promoting the values of citizenship, so throughout high school, Bryson dedicated countless hours to community service.
Maj. Kelly Cross, Turlock High’s NJROTC instructor, commends Bryson for his perseverance. “He changed, by his own will, who he was to what he wanted to be.”
Bryson also credits his glowing sense of patriotism for helping him reach his goal. “I think I decided to be a Marine officer when I was 10, so that definitely lit a fire in my belly,” he notes. “I want to do the absolute best and be the absolute best for my country, and the Marine Corps is indisputably the best at what it does – fighting and winning our country’s battles.”
Turlock High counselor Mayra Arreola sees Bryson’s superb character and drive taking him far. “Bryson was one of the most mature and respectful freshmen I encountered four years ago,” she says. “I know he will accomplish everything he sets his mind to.”
Henna Hundal is a Turlock High School senior and a member of The Bee’s Teens in the Newsroom program.