KAYLIE BOYETT, Cadet Lieutenant Commander, receives a ceremonial check for $285,000 on behalf of the U.S. Navy and the University of Maine for the N.R.O.T.C. Preparatory Program scholarship from Master Chief Michael Youngblood, left, and Lieutenant Commander Alex Baker.
The wide smile on her elated face told the story of a young woman whose four years of hard work and dedication had paid off. As Cadet Lieutenant Commander Kaylie Boyett held the ceremonial check for $285,000 in her hands, she said she was thinking back over the last four years of all the effort that she had invested to reach this moment.
“I remember when I led my first drill meet and I messed up pretty bad, but I kept my head forward and learned from that mistake” said Boyett.
“She told me from the beginning of her freshman year that she wanted to get a Navy R.O.T.C. scholarship” said Lieutenant Commander Alex Baker, senior Naval science instructor at the Cairo High School Navy Junior ROTC. “She has been the most decorated cadet over my 10 years as the S.N.S.I. here at Cairo and this scholarship is the capstone to her N.J.R.O.T.C. Career.”
The five-year scholarship, a joint program between the United States Navy and the University of Maine, began three years ago and is designed to give students with high potential another opportunity to earn a degree and a commission in the United States Navy. The University of Maine is one of 21 universities across the country with Navy R.O.T.C. programs that provide the N.R.O.T.C. Preparatory Program scholarships that include tuition, fees, books, room, meals and tutoring services during the first year.
Beginning in the second year, the Navy R.O.T.C. pays tuition, fees, books, uniforms and a monthly stipend of $250, which increases to $400 per month by the senior year, with the University of Maine covering all remaining expenses.
“Kaylie certainly deserves the opportunity to continue her education and pursue her goal of becoming a naval officer,” said Baker. “But, she still has a lot of work ahead to get her commission. She will have naval science classes and will do physical training three mornings a week in addition to her regular classes at the University of Maine. She will also spend two to three weeks during the summer assigned to U.S. ships and other commands getting hands on experience in the way Navy conducts its operations around the world.”
Boyett’s journey began in July 2016 when she came to the Cairo High School Navy J.R.O.T.C. new cadet indoctrination class the week before she began her freshman year.
“I was a little nervous, but I knew that I wanted to do everything the N.J.R.O.T.C. had to offer,” said Kaylie. “But as the senior cadets made me feel at home and started training me to stand at attention and salute correctly, my nervousness went away and my confidence began to grow.”
Boyett did go on to do everything the N.J.R.O.T.C. had to offer. She joined the drill team and by the beginning of her sophomore year, she was leading the unarmed basic drill team in inter-service drill competitions.
She was one of the top three shooters on the air rifle team as a sophomore and was the team captain her junior and senior years. She was a member of the orienteering team and ran the most challenging courses.
In addition, Boyett has been a part of the academic team, the color guard presenting the colors at Cairo’s home football games, parades and drill competitions; participated in the N.J.R.O.T.C.’s community service events at the Boys and Girls Club, the Run for Life, Red Ribbon (drug prevention) week and Adopt-A-Highway.
“Not all of our cadets are here to earn Navy scholarships and that’s o.k.,” said Lt. Cdr. Baker. “Some are here because they have an interest in going in the military, but most of our cadets are here because they have a great time doing all the activities we offer and the friendships they develop. We are involved in activities all year (the COVID-19 pandemic notwithstanding) from summer camps to field trips, and from competitions to community service events our cadets always have something to do.”
“Master Chief Michael Youngblood, the Naval Science Instructor and I, along with the senior cadets, usually visit Shiver and Whigham elementary schools and Washington Middle School in the spring to tell the 8th graders about our program, but this year we did not get the opportunity due to the coronavirus shutdown,” said Baker. “I would like to extend a personal invitation to the incoming 9th graders of Cairo High School to join the N.J.R.O.T.C. – in our brand new building – to see if the program is right for them.”
When asked what she would miss the most, Boyett said, “I will miss the atmosphere and community of the N.J.R.O.T.C. program. I have never met a better group of people or mentors. I owe everything I am to this program. It has really helped me grow into the person I am today.”
She went on to say, “If you are unsure about joining, I would challenge you to try it for one semester. You can learn a lot and have fun in the process. The experience will be worthwhile.”