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Sean Scarry Memorial Foundation Awards Rutgers University Army ROTC Scholarships

The Sean Scarry Memorial Foundation recently awarded twelve scholarships, totaling $15,000, to deserving Cadets in the Rutgers University Army ROTC program.  The scholarships were awarded based on financial need and merit to Cadets who proudly serve their country, while attending college. 

The background story of the Memorial Foundation and the scholarships is inspiring and touching.  Out of the devastating loss of a loved one, renewed life and support for others has evolved.  Sean Scarry was a beloved friend and family member who was well read, well traveled and well rounded, in addition to being a Jeopardy champion.  Sean enthusiastically participated in the Rutgers Army ROTC program while in college.  At the time of his passing, at the age of 37, his last wish was to find a way to help support the Rutgers ROTC program.  Out of all of Sean's interesting life experiences, he cited the time that he spent in Rutgers ROTC as the best years of his life, making a powerful statement and testament to the outstanding program that helps mold our country's future leaders in the military, and all areas of society. 

Sean shared his last wishes with his brother, Duncan Scarry.  Duncan, other family members and friends then created the Sean Scarry Memorial Foundation in 2009 to honor Sean's wishes and keep his memory alive.  The Foundation and the scholarships are supported wholly by donations and thousands of people have already offered support for this great cause. 

We recently spoke with the Cadets who received the scholarships and the Commanding Officer of the Battalion to share their thoughts about the Rutgers Army ROTC program and the scholarships.  Most of the Cadets explained that they developed an interest in the military from a young age and are honored to be a part of ROTC, and to serve their country.  In addition, most plan to become career military officers. 

Lieutenant Colonel Ken Patterson, Professor of Military Science and Rutgers ROTC Commanding Officer, commented, "I am very excited about the partnership between the Rutgers Army ROTC program and the Sean Scarry Memorial Foundation.  I believe that it hits at the very core of the values that we teach here every day to the future leaders of the Army.  The basic premise of the scholarship is to provide financial assistance to outstanding Cadets in the program who are facing hardships that could derail their academic careers here at Rutgers, and ultimately prevent them from becoming officers.  We do not have another supporter of this kind, one whose sole purpose is to help Cadets in need.  That is what the U.S. Army is all about in my opinion and it demonstrates that caring, family-like compassion to the Cadets who receive this award.  The scholarship fund also awards scholarships to the top Cadets in the Battalion as a 'merit based' award for their performance here.  That also supports the values of the Army as a whole, pushing our Cadets to excel in all that they do."

Cadet Julio Morales says that joining ROTC at Rutgers is the best decision he's ever made, in large part due to the values, confidence and leadership the program instills.  Once he discovered what military life was like, he immediately found it to be his calling.  He also takes satisfaction in knowing that he's doing something that not many other people are able or willing to do.  Julio stated, "I was so happy when I found out about the scholarship.  This is a huge deal for me as my family has financial challenges, and now I can cover my expenses with the scholarship.  It's wonderful help and ROTC has already done so much for my life and my future.  It's great to be a part of a team, be physically fit and serve my country.  It makes me feel like I'm a part of something larger than myself."  Julio plans to pursue a medical career through the military and ultimately serve as a military doctor. 

Political science and economics major Laurance Kenny is an older Cadet who previously worked at Morgan Stanley while attending college classes at night.  He always wanted to join the military and also sought a way to pay for school and attend classes full time; ROTC was a perfect match for Laurance.  He finds the structure and support of the program to be most rewarding, in both his personal and professional life, and time management to be the biggest challenge.  Laurance commented, "ROTC is like a big family that helps mold you for the better.  It has changed my life and I have fallen in love with the military.  I was ecstatic when I found out that I won the Sean Scarry Memorial Foundation scholarship.  Now I can pay for all my classes and graduate on time.  The scholarship has helped me tremendously and I can't thank Mr. Scarry enough.  Honoring his brother's memory is a wonderful thing and he's helping so many people succeed."  Laurance plans to join the Army in the Ordnance Branch and ultimately go into Special Forces.

Like many other Cadets, senior Lara Hamade has always had an interest in the military, particularly for the organization and disciple it promotes.  Lara became very sick last year after a flu shot triggered other illnesses.  During her extended sickness, she relied heavily on her fellow Cadets and the ROTC leadership.  With their help, she was able to keep up with her school and military work.  Lara said that it's amazing to be a part of such a fellowship and to have so many people believe in you and your future.  She commented, "I was in shock when I found out about the scholarship.  I couldn't believe it and couldn't (and can't) stop saying thank you.  And it's not just the money.  When you're on your own and working so hard, and someone thinks to help you, it's a wonderful feeling and it couldn't have come at a better time."  Fluent in Arabic, English and Russian, Lara plans to serve with the FBI or CIA before attending optometry school, and then hopes to serve in Military Intelligence and Special Forces.           

Merit based scholarship winner Christopher Nueva is a freshman from Barnegat, New Jersey.  He shared what he finds most rewarding, and most challenging about the Rutgers ROTC program.  "The most rewarding part so far is that we get to learn things that other students don't learn.   We learn effective ways to deal with stress, ways to manage time and really learn how to lead.  All this in addition to our regular college curriculum.   The competition between all the Cadets can be challenging, but I love competition and being challenged.  So that really is part of the reward, too."  He said he is grateful to the Foundation for the scholarship and he plans to become an Army Officer in Branch Infantry after graduation.                 

Junior year Cadet Jacob Klavens also shared his thoughts.  "Being in the military causes you to view life differently and appreciate the things around you more.  When you've been out in the field and you come home, you have a greater appreciation for your blessings; it's a whole different perspective.  The most challenging part of the program is balancing academic work and military work, and finding time to sleep.  No matter what, you have to keep your GPA up because it is really important in determining what you are eligible to do in the Army after graduation.  It's just as important as the military training.  I really appreciate the scholarship and it's a huge help in continuing with ROTC and school."  Jacob would like to become an active duty Aviation Officer, preferably a helicopter pilot, and plans to make a career in the military.     

Senior London Nagai received a financial need based scholarship.  He transferred to Rutgers his sophomore year to be closer to his family in a time of need and joined ROTC the same day that he interviewed for the program.  In addition to the financial support he was offered, London was impressed with the high caliber of the ROTC leadership and Cadets.  He cites the sense of accomplishment and character development as the most rewarding aspects of the program.  He also stated that the personal care and attention that the ROTC administration devotes to each and every Cadet is an outstanding, unique part of the program.  London commented, "The Commanding Officer knows about my professional and personal life, and he knows that I'm paying my way through college.  I was surprised and elated when I found out that I won the scholarship.  Now I can focus even more on school and military with all of my tuition bills paid."  After graduation London plans to join the National Guard and attend law school.     

John Sagona was always interested in the military while growing up, but he had no direct experience with it and no family members who served.  He discovered the Rutgers Army ROTC program and found it a perfect match to receive military training and funding for college.  John is also enrolled in Rutgers prestigious nursing program in which only 25 students are accepted each semester.  He stated, "I really enjoy the sense of pride ROTC instills in us and the fact that the Scarry family shares that sense of pride and set up the Foundation to help Cadets succeed.  I am grateful and honored to receive the scholarship."  John is paying for college himself and said that the extra money will allow him focus entirely on school and ROTC.  After graduation he plans to join the Army's Nursing Core with a focus on intensive care or emergency care. 

Junior John Tarchis knew that he wanted join the military from a young age.  He originally applied to West Point Military Academy but decided he did not want to attend a military college.  John spoke with Lieutenant Colonel Patterson and he convinced John that the Rutgers ROTC program was the right choice for him.  He stated, "I am grateful for the scholarship and it is much appreciated.  I won't have to work so many weekends now and can focus more energy on school."  John says he finds all the training options and having all the Cadets to share experiences with as most rewarding.  He also agrees with most other Cadets that balancing school, ROTC, work and a social life is the most challenging part of the program.  John plans to be commissioned as an active duty Army Infantry Officer after graduation.             

Engineering major Conor Cahill comes from a family deeply steeped in military service.  From a young age he knew that he wanted to do his part and serve the country in the Army.  He finds the friendships he's formed in ROTC to be the most rewarding part of the program, and finds balancing school work and military work the most challenging aspect of the program.  Like Sean Scarry, he agrees that these are the best years of his life so far.  Conor says that he is grateful for the scholarship and to be a member of Rutgers Army ROTC, and he is honored to be among his fellow Cadets.  After graduation he would like to join the Army Corp of Engineers.            

John Wiessler hails from Washington, New Jersey and has always felt a strong urge to serve his country.  In only his second semester in ROTC, he says it's already better than anything he expected, although the time management can be tricky.  Further, he finds the friendships he's forming in ROTC to be the most rewarding part of the program.  John commented, "Many thanks to the Sean Scarry Memorial Foundation for helping support our Battalion and its members.  It's a great thing to do and it helps keep our program running.  I am very appreciative and thankful for everything the Foundation does."  John says he was surprised, ecstatic and honored to receive the scholarship.  He plans to enter the Army as an Infantry Officer after graduation.                

As a senior in high school, Joseph Brennan received a four year national scholarship.  After evaluating many schools, he chose Rutgers and joined the ROTC program his sophomore year.  Joseph says he likes the challenge of ROTC because there is always something to push you further.  It's a lot of hard work, but he says it always pays off in the end.  He also enjoys the camaraderie of the Cadre and the fact that they all help each other.  "It's a great experience and one of the best programs in the country," commented Joseph.  "The Memorial Foundation is awesome and I can understand why Sean Scarry loved being in the program so much.  I'm grateful for everyone who is involved in the Foundation.  I can't thank you enough."  After college Joseph plans to build a career in the Army, take advantage of all opportunities available and push himself as far as he can go in life and service.      

Robert Eckert states that he wasn't very interested in extracurricular activities during his first semester at Rutgers, until he started seeing the ROTC Cadets training on campus.  After speaking with Cadets, his father and Lieutenant Colonel Patterson, he rekindled his life-time interest in the military and joined the ROTC program.  In addition, Robert also serves in the National Guard one weekend a month.  He is grateful that he gets to serve his country and pay for school simultaneously.  He stated, "Money has always been a big issue in my family.  Serving in the military now allows me to get training that will be beneficial for myself and others, and pay for college.  I am so grateful for the scholarship and want to thank everyone involved.  I couldn't be happier with ROTC and especially the leadership.  They set the bar very high for us, but they also offer support and help us succeed."  After college Robert plans to be commissioned as an Infantry Officer and ultimately join Special Forces.                          

Lieutenant Colonel Patterson made a final statement, "I am honored to be a part of such a worthwhile cause, and the fact that it serves to carry on the memory of Sean Scarry takes it a step further in its importance to us.  Sean was a Cadet in the Rutgers Army ROTC program in the 1990s and this scholarship fund was created at his request prior to his untimely passing.  The fact that the Rutgers ROTC program had such a significant impact on Sean that he would remember it nearly 20 years later is a very touching and emotional story, one that we are all very proud to be a part of.  I look forward to a long history of providing this award to the outstanding future leaders that walk the halls of Rutgers Army ROTC." 

The Sean Scarry Memorial Foundation scholarships were formally awarded at a ceremony on January 20.  Brigadier General (retired) Bruce Bingham, a Rutgers Army ROTC alum and Vietnam War veteran, and the Rutgers University Director of Student Veteran Affairs, Colonel (retired) Steve Abel, were in attendance to hand out the certificates and congratulate the scholarship recipients.  In addition, all of the scholarship awardees, over 100 other Cadets from the ROTC program and the entire Cadre attended the award ceremony.  Congratulations to all the scholarship recipients and we are grateful for their service!

Amanda Tossberg