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JROTC turned Central High School graduate into a leader

Graduating Central High senior Cierra Williams, 18, is heading to the University of Colorado this fall on an ROTC scholarship.

KERI WIGINTON | Times

Graduating Central High senior Cierra Williams, 18, is heading to the University of Colorado this fall on an ROTC scholarship.

BROOKSVILLE — When Cierra Williams began her freshman year at Central High School four years ago, she had no idea how much her life would change.

Her family had moved from Hillsborough to Hernando County so she could participate in Central's Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps program, which was recently recognized by the Navy League as the best such group in the United States.

But Williams had her doubts.

"At first I didn't want to do it," she said. "I thought, 'It's going to ruin my life.' "

Like many people, Williams had misconceptions about JROTC.

She thought it would be very strict or operate like a mini boot camp in high school. Instead, the program helped her find her voice.

"It turned out to be really good for me," the 18-year-old Williams said. "I was extremely shy. It's made me more outgoing, more social."

The JROTC program is like a large family, Williams said. But within the group of nearly 300 cadets at Central High, everyone is different and students respect those differences, she said.

It all worked just as her mother, Shelley Giard-Talbott, had hoped.

"Cierra was choosing friends that were not making good choices," said Giard-Talbott, referring to her daughter's previous school. "At that time, she was easily influenced. She was trying to find a place to belong."

A few months into her freshman year things began to fall into place.

About one-sixth of the student body at Central High belongs to JROTC. Early on, program leaders saw leadership potential in Williams.

"She's not only an A student, she's also a developing young leader," said Lt. Col. Michael Ralph, who oversees the school's program. "She's worked her way up through the program through numerous leadership positions, including leading a company of cadets this year."

Her mother credits the program and instructors for helping her daughter. She wishes more people knew about it.

"These men care so much about these kids," Giard-Talbott said. "It's really like they have three more fathers."

Over the years, Williams has received numerous awards and honors, including the Meritorious Achievement Award, which she has received for the past three years.

"She's one of the few who have done that," Ralph said. "It's the highest award. We don't give that out as frequently as we give out other awards. In her sophomore year, she started to rise ahead of her peer group. She has continued to work hard."

Williams, who graduates tonight from Central, is headed to the University of Colorado in Boulder on an ROTC scholarship worth up to $180,000. She was one of 10 recipients at Central to receive the scholarship this year.

When she completes her education, Williams will serve in the Navy as an officer.

Shary Lyssy Marshall can be reached at slmarshall.sptimes@gmail.com.

Central High School

Graduation ceremonies are scheduled to begin at 7:30 tonight at the school, 14075 Ken Austin Parkway, Brooksville.

Valedictorian: Sarah Bute

GPA: 4.59

Parents:

David and Ann Bute

College: University of Florida

Field of Study:

Biology/pre-med

Salutatorian:

Layla Schuster

GPA: 4.51

Parents:

Brian and Layali Schuster

College: University of Florida

Field of Study: Pharmacy

Rounding out the Top 10

3. Sarah Lynch

4. Meagan Eng

5. Thomas Koster

6. Stephanie Arnold

7. Kristin Gousse

8. Phylicia Irons

9. Rachel Lynch

10. Jaime Martinez

Central High School Class of 2010

Kimberly Abreu

Juliana Adams

Michael Agresto IV

Isaac Alvarez

Caesar Anaya

Brittany Anderson

Thomas Armstrong Jr.

Stephanie Arnold

Christine Atkins

Steven Auche

Samantha Augustin

Michele Aultman

Cassandra Baker

Megan Baker

Sydney Bakri

Brian Ball

Jazmine Balmaseda

Bridget Barker

Michael Barnes

Christina Bartek

Krystin Beaumont-Liverpool

Dalton Bedgood

Lindsay Belhumeur

Jennifer Benoir

Calvin Bernard

Samuel Bickett

Olivia Black

Brittany Blaney

Brittney Block

Brittany Bloom

Tracie Boettger

Charlette Bottom

Nyasia Bourne

Adam Bowles

Donald Brazeau

Ian Brogan

Rashon Brown

Desirae Buckingham

Cassidy Buckley

Erin Buczak

Hailey Burgess

Zachary Burkhart

Melissa Burns

Sarah Bute

Victoria Butler

Kristen Butterfield

Rebekah Bychowski

Brianna Cadoret

Katlyn Callaway

Katelyn Campbell

Trevor Campbell

Alexandra Cario

Candice Catalano

Ariel Ceccarelli

Emily Centella

Kyle Chapman

Courtney Charron

Kelsey Chesteen

Ryan Chin-hing

John Ciancimino

Travis Clark

Monika Clingo

Alexandria Close

David Coakley

Ryan Collins

Alexander Conran

David Conroy

Stephanie Conway

Eric Coogan

Jonelle Cooke

Kristin Cooper

Christopher Corlew

Kristiann Cornett

Krysten Cortalano

Justine Cuevas

Vincent Cunningham

Clarissa Curatolo

Austin Curley

Marybeth Dahl

Jacob Dausch

Clifton Davis Jr.

Erica Davis

Jaime Davis

Maki Davis

Maria Davis

Ashley Decillis

Jennifer Dees

Joel Dejesus

Joseph Desario

Karli Donahue

Brittney Donovan

Danielle Doyal

Cody Driggers

Michelle Dustin

Bryana Eady

Grant Eder

Holly Edwards

Meagan Eng

Joseph Farace

Leann Farmer

Jennifer Fasting

Tiffany Faulkingham

Michael Fender

Desiree Ferrante

Alyssa Fields

Cory Finkbeiner

William Finley

John Fiske

Michael Fitzgerald

Jessica Flammia

Michael Flores

Quynn Fonseca

Jacqueline Force

Arielle Fortunato

Mark Frederick

Corey French

Alexis Fromm

Arielle Frye

Christopher Garnett

Arthur Gartner

Zachary Gehrke

Samantha Gigante

Jillian Gilbert

Chester Gillfillian

Zoe Gleason

Jeffrey Glidden

Shayna Gonzalez

Ronnie Gomez

Ashley Gorton

Kristin Gousse

Robert Griest

Jessica Gross

Desmond Guest

Kelsey Gulic

Shannon Gulley

John Gymnaos

Lorissa Haley

Shelby Hamby

Christa Hammond

Brittney Hamrick

Leslie Harris

Ashley Harrison

Gabrielle Harvey

Tyler Hebert

Scott Heffner Jr.

Dana Higgenbotham

Austin Hildebrand

Angela Hilger

Timothy Hintz

Chavas Hitsman

Ellyn Hodge

Chelsea Horn

Patrick Huggins

Jacob Hunt

Ebony Hunter

Joseph Impellizzieri

Crystal Ingram

Phylicia Irons

Cajetta Jackson

Bradley Jacobs

Sung Jang

Justin Jarque

Kenneth Jarrells III

Haiden Johnson

Lani Johnson

William Johnson

Ryan Johnston

Emily Jones

Trevor Jones

Elise Jorgensen

Brittany Juanis

Adolfo Juarez

Brody Judd

Amanda Jurgensen

Nicholas Kalomeres

Samantha Kalomeres

Aaron Kaltenbach

Kaitlyn Kameron

Jason Kane

Stephanie Kerney

Duy Kim

Jacob King

Brad Kipp

Christopher Knight

Elizabeth Knight

Thomas Koster

Hallie Krex

Jessica Kropik

Conrad Kunisch

Amy Kyler

Suzanne Lajoie

Tawny Laird

Aadryon Lake

Justin Lane

Jessica Lebo

German Lebron

Gebria Lee

Jazly Leon

Kristen Leonard

Ronoel Leonor

Robert Lepre

Christopher Lewandowski

Elizabeth Lezama

Robert Little

Vanessa Lobo

Dominick Logroi

Alisha Loring

Nathan Lovero

Christopher Lukas

Victoria Luckina

Stephanie Lukawski

Joseph Lula

Rachel Lynch

Sarah Lynch

Mason Mackenzie

Christina Macri

Jake Macsweeney

Brandon Malone

Tyler Mancillas

Jessica Maraglia

Christine Marques

Marilyn Marrero

Dixia Marroquin

Kevin Marshall

Matthew Marshall

Jaime Martinez

Kailee Martinez

Shylee Martinez

Nicholas Mastrogiuseppe

William Matias

Justin Maves

Shawn Mayer

Donelle McClure

James McCoy Jr.

Mary McGeehan

Noel McKay

Quankeeria Mckenzie

Andrew McNeal

Halie Meister

Matthew Meneely

Michael Meurer

Nicole Mezyk

Jennifer Middleton

Robert Milburn

Tyler Mincevich

Brian Mitchell

Mark Moffett Jr.

Carl Moncalian

Marina Mondor

Kenneth Montgomery

Casey Morito

Adam Mulleavey

Michael Muriel

Brianna Murphy

Sean Murphy

Ryan Mussaw

Jacob Nadella

Nicholas Napolitano

Amanda Nevins

Kim Nguyen

Sy Nguyen

Ryan Nieradka

Stephen Novotny

Dylan Occhiogrosso

Kevin O'Malley

Emmanuel Orozco

Melia Orrell

Karyssa Ortega

Marena Outlaw

Wisper Ownbey

Melissa Page

Stephanie Parsolano

Brittany Parsons

Charishama Patel

James Patrick

Michael Pelletier

Alexander Peno

David Pepe

Hannah Peters

Caitlin Peterson

Melissa Phillips

Edward Pinkney Jr.

Andrea Pittman

Jessica Pittman

Te'Erica Pope

Chelsea Power

Melinda Quantz

Ryan Ramirez

Vincent Ramirez

Steven Read

Tyler Reagan

Qaniqwa Redding

James Reichow

Marguerite Reynolds

Steven Rhone

Hillary Ricci

Zachary Rice

Michelle Rickheeram

Ivy Rickly

Cassandra Rivera

Erick Rivera

Kayla Rizzo

Theodore Robinson

Cailin Rockhold

Amanda Rodenbaugh

Corey Rodriguez

Louis Rogan

Nadya Roman

Charles Rosado

Irelys Rosado

Marcella Routt

Nicole Rowe

Tyler Samburgh

Rosemary Sanchez

Angelisa Sanders

Raisa Santana

Yanishca Santiago

Steven Schaffer

Bree Schufeldt

Layla Schuster

Patrick Scott III

Amanda Seeman

Jessica Shearl

Lisa Sheppard

Erika Sherman

Kathryne Shirley

Austin Sievers

Bradley Simpson

Jessica Sizemore

Jamie Sloan

Brandy Smith

Evan Smith

Lokia Smith

April Snyder

Kristie Spafford

Christina Spano

Anthony Stallone

Tyler Starke

Stephanie Stephens

Norman Stier III

Felicia Stokes

Trevor Stoner

Gina Stucchio

Jayson Suarez

Megan Sumlin

David Supple

Nikita Sutton

Justin Swanson

Priscilla Swint

Cortney Sznajder

Stephanie Tavolaro

Tanena Taylor

Carly Territo

Kristina Terry

Brandin Thatcher

Shannon Thomas

Jason Thompson

Maria Thrasher

Zachery Tindell

Francisco Torres

Irmairis Torres

Samantha Torres

Lisa Totolos

Joshua Tracy

Joseph Treanor

Katie Tremblay

Danielle Trussell

Jeffrey Tumelty

David Turley

Bradley Urling

Antohomar Vega

Johnathan Velez

Joshua Velez

Robert Vendlands

Michelle Venezia

Christopher Ventimeglia

Timothy Villalpando

Robert Vint

Mary Yen Vu

Justin Wagener

Ian Wagoner

Bobbrieanna Walker

Tamara Walker

Michael Walsh

Catherine Waymire

Breann Weidemeyer

Lyndsey Werner

Erica Wernert

Shannon White

Ashley Williams

Cierra Williams

Bradley Williamson

Samantha Wilson

Nicole Wise

Moriah Wiser

Mitchell Wisz

Jacob Wright

Heather Wyckoff

Amanda Young

Dawn Zasa

Steven Zenone

Joseph Zuilkowski

JROTC turned Central High School graduate into a leader 06/09/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 9, 2010 8:55pm]

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