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West Student Wins $180,000 Scholarship

March 8, 2013 08:40 AM
Hillside, IL...LaQuan McMahan has been active in the Naval Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (NJROTC) during his high school career at Proviso West High School.

It paid off for the Proviso West senior recently, when he found out he had been awarded an $180,000 scholarship from the Navy. He plans to major in civil engineering at Marquette University in Milwaukee.

Getting to this point, however, was a tough road for McMahan, 17. Last year, his mother, Rosalee Robinson, passed away, and he said that he has been living with his grandmother since. However, he pressed on, and ultimately won the scholarship.

"It was an overwhelming feeling," McMahan said. "I feel a sense of pride and I feel she’s proud of me."

To qualify for the award, a student needs to score at least 530 on the critical reading portion, and a 520 on the math portion of the SAT. They must also score at least a 21 and 22 on the math and English portions, respectively, on the ACT. The student also also had to be physically fit and an active member of an NJROTC unit. At Proviso West, McMahan is an ensign as well as the unit’s public information officer. After his junior year ended, he completed an application, wrote two essays detailing his leadership abilities, had a background check, and interviewed with a ROTC commander.

"The scholarship you can apply to any college that will accept it," McMahan said.

The hard work will continue after having won the scholarship. McMahan will join the ROTC unit at Marquette, and he will have to maintain a 3.0 grade point average and remain physically fit. After he graduates from college, he will be an active duty officer in the Navy for four years, with the four years following that on inactive duty as a reservist.

Dr. Roudell Kirkwood, principal at Proviso West, said that McMahan is one of the most involved students at the school.

"He’s not only involved in NJRTOC, but he’s involved in yearbook as well as other activities in and around school," Dr. Kirkwood said. "He’ll do an excellent job as he seeks to enter the military after high school."

Will Goggins, his instructor with the NJROTC program at Proviso West, said that McMahan has impressive leadership skills and has worked to mentor younger cadets while maintaining high standards for himself.

"He is a student that exudes confidence, possesses a strong mentality to learn, and strives on success," Mr. Goggins said. "The missing piece to the puzzle for him was opportunity. In order for him to mold the qualities into the individual he is today, he needed a chance to grow, a platform to practice the skill sets he was learning and a chance to experience the success and failures of his choices and decisions. He has taken advantage of it all."

Dr. Nettie Collins-Hart, superintendent of District 209, said that McMahan is an example of the exemplary students found in district schools.

"We have many great students attending our schools," she said. "For one to receive an opportunity such as this is extraordinary and a testament to his hard work and talent."

McMahan said that he plans to finish high school strong.

"It’s a great setup for college," he said.


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