MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. --
For the first time since the program began in 2006, Marine Corps Recruiting Command has awarded all 34 allotted four-year Frederick C. Branch Leadership Scholarships to qualified men and women who attend or plan on attending participating historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs).
The Branch Scholarship is a Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps scholarship available to students who are currently attending or have received letters of acceptance to one of 17 historically black colleges and universities that have NROTC programs on campus or crosstown affiliates. Some of the schools included are Clark Atlanta, Howard, Hampton, Texas Southern, Tuskegee and Xavier universities. The scholarship is available in four, three and two year installments.
The scholarship is named after Capt. Frederick C. Branch, who on Nov. 10, 1945, became the first African-American to be commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps.
“Captain Branch became an officer at a time where the Marine Corps and country as a whole was a segregated place,” said Capt. Joseph Wydeven, diversity officer, MCRC. “He fought to become an enlisted Marine at Montford Point and took it a step further by fighting to become an officer. His story is one of perseverance and Marine triumph and we continue to ask our officers today to show the same courage and mettle that he did.”
Though students must attend a participating HBCU to receive the Branch Scholarship, students of any race who meet the moral, mental and physical qualifications to be Marine officers may receive the scholarship.
“The selection for four-year scholarships was very competitive this year,” said Wydeven. “We expect that to increase as word spreads about the scholarship.”
Wydeven, along with several other officers from MCRC, made up the scholarship selection board.
Some of those qualifications include a 22 or higher on the ACT, a 1000 or higher combined math and reading on the SAT, the physical and mental fortitude to make it through the rigors of Officer Candidate School and outstanding moral character.
For those selected, the scholarship pays for tuition and gives a monthly subsistence allowance of $250 for freshman, $300 for sophomores, $350 for juniors and $400 for seniors among other benefits.
For their part, some of the responsibilities for students attending school on the scholarship are participation in their school’s NROTC program and a four year service requirement to the Marine Corps after earning their commission as second lieutenants.
During fiscal year 2011, MCRC revamped the board process for the Branch Scholarship. In years prior, the scholarship was not used to its full potential due to a lack of awareness of the program. To combat this problem, MCRC implemented changes to give qualified students a second chance at an NROTC scholarship. If a student who applied for a regular Marine-option NROTC scholarship and was not selected listed a participating HBCU as a school of choice on their application their package was automatically forwarded to MCRC for consideration for the Branch Scholarship.
“The new board process played a part in awarding all available four year scholarships,” said Lt. Col. Chester McMillon, head of officer programs and a member of the scholarship selection board, MCRC. “The students who were not selected for regular NROTC scholarships were still very competitive. We made sure that everyone who was selected to receive a Branch Scholarship was prepared.”
Although all four year installments of the scholarship were awarded, opportunities are still available for incoming sophomores and juniors at participating schools.
“Because we awarded all four year scholarships this is a key opportunity for officer selection officers and Marine officer instructors at the participating schools to find students to apply for the two and three year scholarships,” said Wydeven. “The competition was very tight for the four year scholarships so some of those students who did not receive them are in a great position to potentially receive two and three year installments in future years.”
If you are interested in following in the footsteps of legendary Marine officers like Capt. Frederick C. Branch, contact your local officer selection officer, visit www.MarineOfficer.com or call 1-800-MARINES.