Amalia Montes, a soon-to-be Durant High School graduate, earns a full-ride U.S. Air Force scholarship.

Soon-to-be Durant High School graduate Amalia Montes was one of only 100 AFJROTC cadets in the nation to be selected for the prestigious J-100 Character-in-Leadership Scholarship. The selected cadets earned an average GPA of 3.85, an average ACT score of 28, and an average SAT score of 1320. For the first time in the scholarship program’s history, applicants were administered the Air Force Physical Fitness Assessment.

However, what distinguishes the J-100 program is the board interview process that focuses on the applicant’s character, leadership and citizenship. During the interview, applicants are asked to discuss their views on multiple topics, such as core values, how they approach problem-solving, what life obstacles they have overcome and how they resolve conflict.

With more than 80,000 AFJROTC cadets currently enrolled at more than 800 programs worldwide, these 100 cadets truly represent the best-of-the-best. The selected cadets come from AFJROTC programs in 31 different U.S. states and territories and six countries.

Montes has been interested in flying for as long as she can remember.

“It started when I would fly to visit my grandparents in Pennsylvania,” said Montes. “I always loved watching the plane takeoff and land.”

When Montes entered ninth grade, she joined AFJROTC at Durant High School and learned of the AFJROTC eight-week flight academy opportunity. Only one person from Durant High School had ever been accepted.

“I determined then I was going to apply for that scholarship as soon as I was old enough,” said Montes. “After completing a physical fitness test, an application, a medical exam and a written test, I was ecstatic when I found out I had been selected for the program.”

Montes’ core values are integrity first, service before self and excellence in everything. The J-100 Scholarship is a full-ride scholarship to a college or university of Montes’ choice with a housing and book stipend and a monthly spending allowance. Last summer, Montes completed flight academy and earned her pilot’s license at UND Aerospace Phoenix Flight Training Center in Arizona through another JROTC scholarship. Montes will attend Southeastern University in Lakeland this fall, majoring in aviation. Upon graduation from university, she will be commissioned as a U.S. Air Force officer. Montes dreams of flying commercially after serving in the military.

Montes also wanted to extend a huge thank you to Col. Anthony Hingle and Chief Andrew Johnson, her two AFJROTC instructors.

“They have been there helping me every step of the way,” said Montes. “Especially thank you to Col. Hingle, who helped me with the mountains of paperwork that was involved in both the application for flight academy and the J-100 Scholarship. Both colonel and chief are retiring this year. They are leaving a legacy of an excellently run AFJROTC program at Durant High School.”

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Kelly Wise Valdes
Kelly Wise Valdes has been writing for the Osprey Observer since 2008. She graduated in 1989 from Florida Southern College with a B.S. in Communications and enjoys writing and traveling. She currently resides in northern Hillsborough County with her husband, David. When not traveling and writing, Kelly and her husband enjoy spending time with their five grown children (as well as their grandchildren) that still keep them very busy.