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Brighton High School senior wins $200k Navy ROTC scholarship

A Brighton High School senior got a pleasant surprise just prior to an athletic competition last week.

Senior Maxwell Johnson was preparing to compete with his teammates at a swim meet Jan. 26 at Brighton High School, when his name was as announced and he was asked to step forward for a presentation.

Looking somewhat leery, Johnson approached and saw his parents as well as local recruiters with the U.S. Navy had gathered so that he could be presented a full four-year college scholarship courtesy of the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC).

Every year, approximately 5,000 high school seniors compete for the approximately 1,280 scholarships that are good at over 170 universities and colleges across the United States. The scholarships provide $200,000 over four years to cover tuition fees, books, and other expenses, as well as include a monthly stipend for summer training opportunities while leading to post-graduate commissioning as a U.S. Navy Ensign.

One of the scholarship requirements is that applicants must complete an interview with a naval officer who then assesses the applicant’s aptitude, attitude and leadership ability. Those results, along with the application, are then sent to an awards panel to determine which applicants will receive the scholarship.

However, Johnson learned from Commanding Officer of Talent Acquisition Group Heartland, Jason A. Nelson, that he would not be part of that process, but would instead receive an NROTC Four-Year Immediate Scholarship Reservation (ISR).

“Every year the local recruiting officer, which is me, is given a small number of scholarships to be awarded directly to the applicant based on how the interview goes, and a few other factors, bypassing that panel,” said Commander Nelson. “This year, based on your interview, you, Maxwell Johnson, impressed upon me your desire to join the United States Navy and I’d like to offer this scholarship to you. Congratulations!”

A stunned Johnson then lined up with recruiting personnel, including Navy Recruiter Hospital Corpsman First Class Tyheria Phillips-Oden and Navy ROTC Coordinator Chief Kehl, as well as his family for photos while holding a ceremonial check for $200,000.

Johnson’s mother, Dana Casteel, said they are still in the process of determining which colleges that Maxwell has been accepted to have open Navy ROTC spots.

“What makes Max remarkable in this age of self-promotion is his humility,” she told GIGO News. “He never felt compelled to call attention to himself but became a leader through his actions. Max is a hard worker who is consistently kind and respectful to others.  We are blessed beyond measure to call him our son.”

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