MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. --
Marine Corps Recruiting Command conducted the Frederick C. Branch Leadership Scholarship board April 26, awarding 15 four year scholarships to highly qualified men and women who want to become Marine officers.
Of the 15 students selected during MCRC’s board, eight were African-American and three were female.
Since the Frederick C. Branch Leadership Scholarship began in 2006, 68 have been made available each year. However, many of them have gone unawarded, especially the four-year scholarships. In years past, it has been the job of each college or university’s Marine officer instructor (MOI) to find qualified students.
According to Lt. Col. Chester L. McMillon, head of Officer Programs, MCRC, it is difficult for MOIs to find scholarship recipients before they are in school for their freshman year.
“Sometimes a student is referred to the MOI before their freshman year, but most of the time it is hard for them to come across these students before they arrive on campus,” said McMillon. “In those cases, a three-year scholarship is often the best [the MOI] can do for them.”
To combat this problem, recent changes were made to the submission process for four-year Branch Scholarships. Rather than relying on MOIs alone to find highly qualified students, executive officers from the 48 recruiting stations across the nation forwarded packages of regular Marine-option NROTC scholarship non-selects to MCRC for consideration. The board in April was the first one held by MCRC to award four-year scholarships to these nominees.
“Students who applied for and did not receive regular Marine-option NROTC scholarships had their packages submitted for the Branch Scholarship if they listed one of the participating HBCUs as a school of choice,” said Capt. Adam Scott, head of Regular Officer Programs, MCRC.
Doing this gave qualified students a second chance at a scholarship.
“Marines at MCRC personally contacted these students to inform them of their opportunity to receive the Branch Scholarship,” said McMillon. “Some of the students not selected for NROTC scholarships were qualified, but didn’t have the opportunity to receive them.”
This was due to a limited number of regular Marine-Option NROTC scholarships available. By resubmitting students for the Branch Scholarship, more highly qualified men and women were able to get their education paid for and a guarantee of employment after successful completion of their degree and Officer Candidate School.
“Eighteen packages were submitted and 15 four-year scholarships were awarded,” said Scott, who was a member of the selection board.
Despite the added submissions for the Branch Scholarship, 16 went unawarded due to a lack of qualified candidates. To prevent this in the future, MCRC’s advertising section has developed informational flyers which will be distributed by recruiting station executive officers and MOIs. The hope is to raise awareness of the opportunity the Marine Corps offers to the best and brightest students in the country.
The Branch Scholarship, named after the first African-American Marine officer, is a Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps scholarship available to eligible students who attend one of 17 historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) participating in the program. Some of the schools included are Clark Atlanta, Howard, Hampton, Texas Southern, Tuskegee and Xavier universities.
The scholarship pays tuition and academic fees, a book allowance and monthly subsistence of $250 for freshmen, $300 for sophomores, $350 for juniors and $400 for seniors. Room and board is not covered in the scholarship. In addition to the board, each participating school may submit applicants for two four-year scholarships, one three-year scholarship and one two-year scholarship.
Some of the requirements for consideration, in addittion to a letter of admission to a participating school, are an SAT score of 1,000 (combined math and critical reading) or ACT composite score of 22 and a high moral character. Students must also be physically fit to prepare them for Officer Candidate School, which they will attend during the summer between their junior and senior year. A score of 225 on the Marine Corps physical fitness test is considered competitive, though not a requirement.
A letter of acceptance to an HBCU is required to be considered for the scholarship, however, a student’s ethnic background was not taken into account by the board, which consisted of four Marine officers from MCRC.
“Any student, regardless of race, who attends one of the participating schools is eligible for the scholarship if they meet the academic, physical and moral qualifications and have a letter of acceptance from a participating school,” said Maj. Frank Moore, diversity officer, MCRC, who was a member of the recent board.
If you are up to the challenge of following Branch’s footsteps and becoming a Marine officer, contact your local officer selection officer at www.MarineOfficer.com for more information about the Frederick C. Branch Leadership Scholarship.