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    Rickover Cadet Graduates with Olympic Dreams


    Photo By Scott A. Thornbloom | CHICAGO (June 12, 2021) – Hyman G. Rickover Naval Academy Navy Junior ROTC Cadet...... read more read more



    Story by Scott A. Thornbloom  

    Naval Service Training Command   

    By Scott A. Thornbloom, Naval Service Training Command Public Affairs

    CHICAGO – As Emilio Cendejas sat with his 85 fellow graduating Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (NJROTC) cadet classmates June 12, 2021, he thought of the past and the future.

    The Logan Square and Chicago resident reminisced on the past four years attending Hyman G. Rickover Naval Academy and as a NJROTC cadet. He remembered following in his sibling’s footsteps, learning the values of good citizenship, personal responsibility and service to the United States along with receiving his high school diploma.

    On that warm bright sunny June day outside on the campus grounds of the academy, he also looked to the future and working toward a dream he has had longer than he was an NJROTC cadet – being an Olympian in the Martial Art of Taekwondo.

    “I’ve wanted to compete in taekwondo and to be an Olympian ever since I saw Damian (Alejandro) Villa (Valdez) win a (silver) medal at the World Taekwondo Championships in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 2009, when I was six-years-old, said Cendejas.

    Currently Cendejas is training at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, with the U. S. Taekwondo Team and other martial arts USA team members. His goal is to make the team for the 2024 Olympic Summer Games in Paris. In the past, he has trained with the Mexican Martial Arts Team. He was also the 2017 World Taekwondo Champion when he was 14.

    He credits Rickover for allowing him the time to pursue his dream and supporting him.

    “It means they count on me and they support me 100 percent. Not a lot of schools would do that which is why I am grateful to have attended Rickover,” he said.

    According to Michael J. Biela, Rickover Naval Academy Superintendent,
    “We are willing to work with all the kids here like Emilio and support them to see their dreams come true.”

    School counselor Beth Lanners calls all the more than 450 students and NJROTC cadets at Rickover her darlings. She said Cendejas is one of the sweetest and kindest young men that have attended Rickover.

    “He’s always there to lend a hand and helps out with the younger students. He’s also a very good martial artist,” Lanners said.

    His parents, Martan and Praticetti, said they are very proud of all four of their children and very happy seeing Emilio graduate and continue to reach for his dream.

    “We are so proud to see Emilio graduate high school and thank everyone (at Rickover) for their support,” said Martan. “We are also very proud to see Emilio continue his training. He loves to train and compete and he will continue to have our support.”

    Navy Science Instructor and Rickover Officer-In-Charge, retired U. S. Navy Senior Chief Kenneth Stapleton, called Cendejas a great kid and good student.

    “He’s a great, great kid. His personality is outstanding. I enjoyed having him in my class,” Stapleton said.

    Cendejas said being in NJROTC helped in his martial arts training.

    “I’ve applied the discipline I’ve gotten from NJROTC to my training every day,” he said. “I’ve also applied the respect I’ve learned to give to other cadets and to my opponents and showing good sportsmanship when competing.”

    Cendejas said the door is always open in the future to attending college or even joining the military in the future, but for now all his training and concentration is on winning The Gold in Paris in 2024.

    Rickover Navy Academy ( is named for the “Father of the Submarine Community,” U. S. Navy Adm. Hyman G. Rickover. According to its website, the mission is to empower cadets to meet and exceed academic standards through a challenging and engaging curriculum that promotes programs to prepare cadets for post-secondary education and/or independent living. As an NJROTC unit member, Rickover Navy Academy provides meaningful leadership training, experiences and activities to serve as a foundation for a lifetime of success. The military component is woven into the entire curriculum to motivate young people to become better scholars, leaders, and citizens.

    The NJROTC and Navy National Defense Cadet Corps (NNDCC) are part of the Navy’s Citizenship program. They are overseen by the Naval Service Training Command (NSTC), headquartered on Naval Station Great Lakes, Illinois. The program seeks to instill in participating high school students the values of citizenship, service to the United States, personal responsibility and a sense of accomplishment. NJROTC and NNDCC strive to build a strong foundation of citizenship within America’s future leaders.
    NJROTC and NNDCC units operate at more than 600 high schools around the world with more than 90,000 cadets participating.

    In addition to regular classroom instruction, NJROTC and NNDCC cadets participate in extra-curricular activities throughout the school year and during the summer months designed to stimulate learning by hands-on experiences and to reinforce the program's curriculum. Cadet extra-curricular activities include community service projects, drill competitions, academic competitions, visits to naval installations, and Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) training.

    For more information about NJROTC/NNDCC, visit

    The NSTC commander, Rear Adm. Jennifer S. Couture, and her staff oversee 98 percent of initial officer and enlisted accessions training for the Navy. This includes Naval ROTC at more than 160 colleges and universities, Officer Training Command (OTC) on Naval Station Newport, Rhode Island, RTC and NJROTC/NNDCC.

    For more information about NSTC, visit or visit the NSTC Facebook pages at

    For more news from Naval Service Training Command, visit



    Date Taken: 07.28.2021
    Date Posted: 07.28.2021 15:50
    Story ID: 401930
    Location: CHICAGO, IL, US 

    Web Views: 132
    Downloads: 0