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    Cadet Corps showcases future of California: State competition brings youth leaders to JFTB Los Alamitos

    Cadet Corps showcases future of California: State competition brings youth leaders to JFTB Los Alamitos

    Photo By Brandon Honig | Evanks Rosales, 15, left, leads a group of California Cadet Corps participants from...... read more read more



    Story by Brandon Honig 

    California National Guard Primary   

    When Vanessa Martinez said she wanted to join the California Cadet Corps, her mom was surprised and skeptical of her commitment. But now, after two years in the leadership-development program, the 13-year-old has shown how committed she can be.

    “I went from a little girl that did choir, performing, dancing, to dressing up in uniform every Wednesday and having a lot of responsibility,” said Martinez, who is also responsible for helping take care of her younger brother. “My mom didn’t think I’d ever want to take care of him, but now I enjoy watching him. … I like the responsibility because it’ll show when I’m older.”

    Martinez, who attends Sequoia Middle School in Porterville, rode 4.5 hours to participate in the Cadet Corps’ Individual Major Awards (IMA) competition April 9 at the California National Guard’s Joint Forces Training Base (JFTB) Los Alamitos in Orange County.

    She answered a series of questions on the Cadet Corps curriculum and delivered a 3.5-minute speech on immigration — a topic she chose because it is has affected her family.  

    “It was nerve-racking,” she said. “I had a lot of questions I didn’t know, but I feel like I did well on my speech, because it’s something personal to me.”

    Youths Show Their True Colors
    More than 300 youths in grades 5-12 traveled to JFTB that day for the IMA and the State Drill Competition. All participants had already won a regional event representing one of the 55 schools that host the Cadet Corps, a California National Guard-run program that dates to 1911.

    “The main purpose of the Cadet Corps is to develop leaders and prepare them for success in college and the workforce,” said Cadet Corps Maj. Kenneth Cook-Askins. “The drill competition ties into several things: discipline, being able to follow orders, precision, practicing, attention to detail. All of those components carry over to regular civilian life and academics.”

    Evanks Rosales, 15, of North Valley Military Institute in Sun Valley, took home an armful of awards from the Drill Competition, including the highly coveted Brig. Gen. Daniel Brennan Senior Division Drill Down Award. He said the Corps has taught him citizenship, self-control, discipline, how to be a leader, and how to be himself and socialize with different groups of people. 

    Those skills were invaluable during a Cadet Corps camp last summer, when he and three other cadets were presented the challenge of surviving outdoors for five days and four nights with no supplies. Rosales built the group a shelter, and the team caught a rabbit and a rattlesnake to eat. 

    “When you’re in survival, anybody can show their true colors, no matter what rank you are or who people think you are,” he said. “You get really tired and start arguing with your team, but you have to stick together, have a positive mental attitude and stick through it. … 

    “We got really close, had a lot of laughs and a lot of fun.”

    Learning to Lead
    The Cadet Corps is structured like the military, with youths filling all the roles, Cook-Askins said. As they move up through the ranks, cadets learn from each other, much like they would in the Armed Forces.

    “Cadets are the ones running the program, serving as squad leaders, first sergeants, company commanders, battalion commanders. They are the ones giving directives to subordinate commands just like in the regular Army,” Cook-Askins said. “They learn by doing and by watching, and when the time comes to move up in rank, they know how to do it because they’ve been watching their predecessor.” 

    When Rosales was starting out in the Cadet Corps almost three years ago, he looked at the commanders and sergeants major and thought, “Whoa, I want to be like them one day.” He observed and learned from them, and he completed all the leadership tasks necessary to gain promotion after promotion. 

    Now he is the command sergeant major for a five-school brigade with more than 700 cadets.

    “It doesn’t matter if you’re an officer — you can be a [noncommissioned officer] and be a leader as well,” he said. “You just have to take charge, know what you’re doing and have confidence in yourself.”



    Date Taken: 04.18.2016
    Date Posted: 04.18.2016 15:51
    Story ID: 195696
    Location: LOS ALAMITOS, CA, US

    Web Views: 310
    Downloads: 0