Nov 19, 2021
It’s not like Bryson Andrade to be late for anything related to his ROTC duties at Florida Southern College.
Andrade had a good excuse.
The Florida Southern College sophomore was receiving a scholarship from the Lakeland Rotary Club on November 5, meaning that the 19-year-old San Diego native missed the first part of his cadre’s field training exercise at Camp Blanding.
Before receiving the scholarship, Andrade attended Florida Southern as a non-scholarship cadet, but through his efforts, he impressed not only the Lakeland Rotary Club, but his commanding officer as well.
“It’s unusual for a sophomore to show that much commitment,” Florida Southern College Professor of Military Science Lt. Col. John Denney said. “It’s not a requirement to be on the Ranger Challenge team, to do the color guard, or to show up for physical training (every day) … especially if you’re not on scholarship. For a kid that wasn’t receiving benefits (until now), he’s meeting the requirements of a fully-contracted cadet. He’s motivated to do as much as he can get his hands on.
“He’s got potential. You can look and assess how he interacts with everyone. It’s his maturity level. He exhibits the motivation that we’re looking for. It’s a challenging program. Most that enter it are up to the challenge, but some excel sooner than others. He definitely exhibits that.”
So how did Andrade end up making the cross-country trip to join the Mocs Battalion?
It helps that his Aunt Nancy Smith is a Florida Southern alum for one, and the fact that he has another aunt and a grandfather that live in Lakeland doesn’t hurt.
Andrade ‘23 said they took him to a couple of schools, but the charm of Florida Southern’s campus caught his eye.
Andrade said he has extended family in the military, and his dad actually works for Homeland Security, which helped spur his interest in the ROTC program.
“It’s been around me my whole life,” Andrade said. “It was something I was able to envision secondhand. Their experience played a role, but I had ambitions of my own. I wanted to better myself mentally, physically and get leadership skills. I had to place myself in an environment with likeminded individuals.”
Andrade’s found all of that with the Moc Batallion, saying that it’s like learning from two sources instead of one.
It’s because of Andrade’s total immersion into the ROTC program, whether that is with the Ranger Challenge Team, the color guard squad, or various other aspects of the program, that he was chosen for the Lakeland Rotary Club’s scholarship.
“I am extremely honored that my cadre has selected me to receive this scholarship,” Andrade said. “All the effort I’ve been putting in feels like it’s starting to pay off. Once I learned about it, it was something I was working for to help myself and my family pay for my education. Any bit of funds I can scratch up to help us means the world to me.”
That’s not the end of Andrade’s commitment to helping his family pay for the education he’s receiving at the College.
Andrade has also taken a job as a custodian at the Nina B. Hollis Wellness Center, finding yet another way to serve his community.
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