News: Scholarship Shapes Marine Corps
Story by Lance Cpl. Jacky Fang
QUANTICO, Va. - Our nation celebrates the historical accomplishments of African-American men and women each February during Black History Month. One such achievement took place when Frederick C. Branch became the first ever African-American Marine officer.
Branch commissioned as a second lieutenant on Nov. 10, 1945. In honor of his success, the Frederick C. Branch Leadership Scholarship program was created nearly 70 years later.
This Frederick C. Branch Scholarship is a Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) scholarship offered for two, three and four year programs at the 17 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), such as Allen University, Texas Southern University and Howard University.
The scholarship makes the challenging path a little easier for individuals seeking to become a Marine officer.
“The scholarship offers a stipend, full tuition and uniforms,” said Capt. Frederick Monday, head of regular officer programs, Marine Corps Recruiting Command (MCRC).
Monthly stipend amounts are $250 for freshman, $300 for sophomores, $350 for juniors and $400 for seniors.
As long as an applicant is accepted into an HBCU, he or she is eligible to be considered for the scholarship.
“The scholarship is open to any race, gender or background. Applicants can be black, white or Asian. It doesn’t matter,” said Monday.
Applicants must be high school graduates or possess an equivalency certificate (GED) and must meet Marine Corps standards of outstanding moral character. They must also possess the physical and mental fortitude to complete the challenges of Officer Candidates School.
The Marine Corps is committed to making concentrated efforts to attract, mentor, and retain the most talented men and women who bring a diversity of background, culture and skill in service to our nation.
Applicants must be between 17 and 23 years old when applying and must score 74 or higher on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB), or a 22 or higher on the American College Test (ACT) or a 1000 combined score on the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT). The individual’s most recent score on any of these tests will be used to evaluate his or her application.
Each HBCU offers two four-year Branch scholarships, one three-year Branch scholarship and one two-year Branch scholarship per year.
MCRC screened, processed, and boarded 80 applications in December 2013, according to Monday.
“It’s a very competitive scholarship,” said Monday. “In December we granted 17 Frederick C. Branch four-year scholarships.”
Each year, the application deadline through the NROTC website is Jan. 31 for the four-year scholarship. The deadline through school submissions is July 15 for the two and three year scholarships. Applicants who apply early will have more time to work with their recruiting station executive officer, ideally offering them a better chance of being awarded the scholarship, said Monday. They could go up on an early board and on the regular board.
“A lot of times applicants will wait until the deadline to apply,” said Monday. “It puts them at a disadvantage because it limits the time the applicant has with the recruiting station executive officer to make his application more competitive.”
A board of Marines evaluates all the applications and grants the scholarships to the most qualified individuals.
The Frederick C. Branch Scholarship is one way the Corps ensures Marines are led by a diverse and representative officer corps. Anyone interested in applying for the scholarship can fill out an application at http://www.nrotc.navy.mil/apply.aspx. For questions about the scholarship, contact the nearest recruiting station executive officer or visit http://www.marines.com/becoming-a-marine/commissioning-programs/four-year-colleges/nrotc.