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Local Girl Distinguishes Herself In Mar Vista’s NJROTC Program

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Posted: Friday, June 1, 2018 2:35 pm

Alyx Smith’s dream is to join the U.S. Navy. Both her grandparents were in the service. Her grandmother served in the Women Army Corp and her grandfather served in the U.S. Navy Reserve and later enlisted in the Air Force. 

Because of her family ties to the military Smith always had an interest to serve, but it wasn’t until her freshman year at Mar Vista High School when she joined the NJROTC program that she really decided it was for her. Smith, now 17 and a junior, recently received the Military Officers Association of America Award following in the heels of the award she received last year, the Distinguished Cadet Award, the highest award a single cadet can receive.

Smith said she was shocked when her name was announced for the award. “It’s nice to know you were chosen,” she said.

Now that she is an upperclassman she is very confident and feels a sense of pride in teaching the underclassmen. But it wasn’t always like that.

“When I joined, I was shy and didn’t talk. NJROTC got me out of my shell and the instructors helped a lot to get to where I am now,” she said.

Some of the NJROTC cadets she has met at the school who have already graduated from Mar Vista have enlisted while others are in college and plan to join as officers. 

Smith explained that in NJROTC, cadets learn leadership skills, and gain knowledge of the different branches of the military. Often former cadets, who are now serving, come to the class to speak to the students.

Smith’s plans is to attend the Naval Academy. “I enjoy engineering and my goal is to go into nuclear engineering,” she said.

Smith loves the fact that the JROTC is a group that shares a common interest. The cadets also create a bond with each other. “I really enjoy the people I meet,” she said. “We do a lot of community service every chance we get. We do the SuperSeal, marathons and triathlons. We usually get the unit out at 5 or 6 a.m., set up and stay until the last runner [finishes].”

Smith is part of a 40 man team for Area 11 who compete against other schools for a chance to go to the Super Bowl which is the largest competition for NJROTC.

“If you place in the top three you go to nationals,” she explained. Her team has gotten very close to the top three.

“When I’m a senior I hope to go to the Super Bowl,” she said. The teams compete in drill fitness, inspection and White PF (physical fitness). Smith is also part of the academics team and X drill team (unarmed) and White PF.

Apart from being busy with NJROTC and her school work, Smith is also a member of the varsity cheer team and plays softball. She maintains good grades and also works as a hostess at a local restaurant.

Smith enjoys the camaraderie in NJROTC, and just like when she was a freshman she looked up to the upperclassmen for guidance, now the younger cadets ask her for help. “Even during lunch the underclassmen ask the upperclassmen for help. We’re all one family, a tight group,” she explained. “It gives us a sense of what’s like to lead a platoon.” 

“I’ve enjoyed the most meeting all the fresh faces and teaching them and see [them through to] where I was as a freshman. We help with drills and knowledge, the uniforms. We’re all there for each other,” she said. “My upperclassmen made me want to do that for others. It’s sad to see your mentors leave [when they graduate]. Now I have to be that mentor.”

Smith was one of two NJROTC cadets who were chosen to attend Leadership Academy for a week in June at Camp Pendleton. Two males and two female cadets were chosen from Mar Vista High School for showing leadership qualities and will have a leadership role in the following school year.

“Once I got involved in NJROTC I recognized my passion,” said Smith.

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