The next time you think there aren’t enough hours in the day, consider Dekaney High School Class of 2023 graduate and Navy JROTC student leader Andrea Villarreal, who during her senior year got up at 3:50 a.m. to get her morning workout in before heading to school and starting her regular day of classes and other responsibilities.
“That’s how I start every day,” Villarreal said.” It gives me energy and motivation to know that it’s going to be a good day, and that I’m going to keep going.”
As cadet commander of the Dekaney Navy JROTC Wildcat Battalion, Villarreal had a lot on her plate as a senior, and continually rose to the challenge. That discipline and hard work paid off earlier this spring when Villarreal received news of her appointment to attend the United States Military Academy Preparatory School (USMAPS) in West Point, New York. After successfully completing the one-year USMAPS program, she will join the Corps of Cadets at West Point.
Dekaney Principal Alonzo Reynolds III said that Villarreal’s example will continue to inspire not just her fellow Navy JROTC cadets, but others at the campus in the years to come.
“Andrea has set the bar even higher,” Reynolds said. “She met all the standards based on her leadership and she was accepted in, which is a big deal for a kid that just started [JROTC] in ninth grade.”
Villarreal received a nomination from U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee in support of her academy applications, and she was ultimately offered a spot not just at USMAPS but also at the U.S. Naval Academy Preparatory School. Both West Point and the Naval Academy offer an all-expense-paid top-notch college education as well as an entryway to a promising career as a military officer.
Villarreal said that when she first joined JROTC as a freshman, acceptance to a United States service academy wasn’t something she was even considering or thought she could qualify for. Now, however, the first-generation soon-to-be college student is excited at her prospects and hopes to make a full career in the U.S. Army.
“I am the first in my family to attend a university, and to join the military,” Villarreal said. “That means a lot, and I feel like I have this weight on my shoulders, and I cannot let them down.”
Villarreal said she couldn’t have done it without the support she received from Navy JROTC instructors, her other Dekaney teachers, her friends, and her family. She encouraged other students to step outside their own comfort zones, take advantage of opportunities on their campuses, and to get involved in programs like JROTC that equip students both to dream big and to achieve their goals.
“I was placed in JROTC and all these programs that have developed who I am and shaped the person who I’ve become,” Villarreal said. “I’m really grateful for that. All of those programs are not only helping me, but every student here in Spring ISD.”