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Called to Serve: Calvin Sweeney ’24 Awarded NROTC Scholarship
Greg Kwasnik

When Calvin Sweeney ’24 went to Nordic Skiing practice on the afternoon of December 8, he had no idea his life was about to change.
That afternoon, Calvin and his teammates were meeting inside the Davis Center, where they were creating training plans for the upcoming winter break. At one point, Calvin looked out the window and saw his parents – accompanied by a man in a military uniform - walking toward him. That man, a military recruiter, was carrying a giant novelty check. He was there to award Calvin a coveted $180,000 Navy ROTC (NROTC) Scholarship.
Here, we chat with Calvin about his scholarship, his plans to study ocean engineering in college, and his ultimate goal of becoming a commissioned officer in the U.S. Marine Corps.
Calvin, first of all - congratulations! You found out about your scholarship during Nordic Skiing practice. Could you tell us about that?
We were practicing. We were doing a goal-setting activity, making a training calendar for break. Our coach, Mr. Casey, said that a lot of times if you write stuff down, you’re more likely to do it. And then I saw a guy outside of the classroom walking in a military uniform. I was like, “That’s definitely for me, because there’s no one else who’s doing something like that.” And so I saw that and I was interested. And then I went out of the classroom and they presented me with one of these big checks. I’ve never had a check that big. It was pretty funny to see. I was also pretty humbled to have that outpouring of support from our community, as well as my parents.
What does your scholarship cover?
It's for four years of college and they pay for everything minus housing. They'll pay for textbooks. They'll pay for your tuition. They'll pay for everything.
Your scholarship can be used at any college or university with a ROTC program. Where are you headed next year?
I'm applying to the Naval Academy. If I get in there, I'll go to the Naval Academy. But ROTC is a good backup that I can do. The Naval Academy is free, but this scholarship will pay for my college if I do ROTC or NROTC.
What would you like to study in college?
There’s this thing called ocean engineering that I really want to do. It's basically designing systems that will help protect coastal cities and coastal areas from effects of climate change. Something I want to specialize in is fluid dynamics, how it's going to affect our coastal cities specifically. For example, Southern California, or especially Florida, because it's so flat, that could get really hurt by rising sea levels. And building more water-resistant skyscrapers, building barricades and stuff like that, I think is important work. And it's also really interesting to me to design that.
Each branch of the U.S. Military has its own ROTC program. Why did you choose Navy ROTC?
Within NROTC there’s a Navy option, a nurse option, and a Marine Corps option. I chose Marine Corps because my dad was a Marine and also the Marine Corps option requires you to be much more physically fit than the Navy option does, and that’s more up my alley. My dad was an aerial navigator for seven years, and my mom was a veterinarian in the Army for 10 years. She eventually got out when she was a Lieutenant Colonel.
The purpose of the NROTC Program – the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps – is to educate and train men and women to serve as commissioned officers. What’s driving you to become an officer?
It's an honor and a privilege to lead the men and women who enlist to serve our country. I think that being an officer in the Marine Corps is an honor and a privilege. It’s something that comes with a lot of responsibility. And that's something I think I'm prepared to undertake. Specifically, I want to do something called MARSOC, which is Marine Special Forces Operations Command. Those are the best of the best in the Marine Corps, and that's who I want to surround myself with. That's who I want to lead. And that's who I think I can lead. That's my ultimate goal for the Marine Corps, to be one of those officers. I want to make a career serving our country. For me personally, I don't think there's any better work I could be doing than that.
What advice would you give to young people who are considering serving their country?
It's a process that involves a lot of effort. You’ve got to make sure you really want to be in the military before you go through with this, because it's a big commitment. I knew I wanted to join the armed services from a young age. I always had a pretty deep commitment to our country. I would just say don't give up and don't let anyone tell you you can't do it. Just believe in yourself. It'll be worth it at the end of the day.

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