WAIANAE, Hawaii (April 26, 2013) -- Months before the start of the school year, some students began working hard towards living up to the JROTC motto, "To Motivate Young People to be Better Citizens."

During the summer, cadets attended an Advance Leader Training Course (ALTC) in preparation to be a leader during the upcoming year.

Throughout the year, JROTC cadets attended community events and competitions, some of which are not mandatory.

They distinguished themselves and demonstrated their commitment to the JROTC program and community by volunteering for non-mandatory events, unaware of their internal changes and transformation not only into good citizens and students, but also into great and caring leaders.

One such example of transformation into an excellent competitor and leaders is Waianae's own JROTC executive officer, Cadet Maj. Brianna Rivera.

April 11, newly appointed Cadet Col. Brianna Rivera of Waianae High School's JROTC Searider Battalion, called all Hawaii Multiple School Units (HMSU) to attention as the brigade commander for its annual Governor's Review at Fort Shafter. She was chosen from more than 16 island-wide schools as the brigade commander at an Advance JROTC Cadet Leadership Course (AJCLC) during spring break in late March.

A cadet being selected from Waianae is a first for the JROTC program since opening in 1981.

"It was unbelievable!" exclaimed Cadet Rivera. "I didn't think I would be chosen for the position, even though I put it on my résumé."

Brianna was nervous about commanding so many cadets.

"The rehearsal day was stressful, having to remember so many commands," she said.

Cadet Rivera did extremely well at the ceremony, even getting a chance to meet Governor Neil Abercrombie for the pass and review of cadets.

"I am very proud of her. She has come a long way as a leader within the battalion. This is a first for us, and we're glad she is representing Waianae," said retired 1st Sgt. Milo Sinapati, Army instructor for Waianae's JROTC program.

Cadet Rivera has the brigade commander position until the following AJCLC in 2014. She is a junior now and on a bright path with Waianae High School's JROTC program.

While leadership and good citizenship are the cornerstones of JROTC, cadets excel in other areas of school and the program. For example, at this year's National Honor Society's (NHS) Awards night, 16 out of the 20 students recognized and inducted into NHS were JROTC cadets, solidifying the positive outcomes as result of their involvement with JROTC.

Our very own Cadet Command Sgt. Maj. Solove Naufahu was identified as one of the "public school senior students who best exemplifies the state Department of Education's vision of a public school graduated."

Naufahu was the recipient of the 3rd annual Citizenship Award created by the "Honolulu Advertiser."

Despite the countless non-school hours that cadets dedicate to JROTC and its many activities both during and after school, they still manage to find time to achieve the best grades within school.

Excellence becomes a norm for cadets who continuously strive to be the best at everything they set their minds to and its noticed by great organizations like the Rotary Club District 5000, which awarded two $10,000 scholarships to deserving cadets.

Once again, one of Waianae's own, Battalion Commander Cadet Lt. Col. Tashawna Wright was one of the two winners of the prestigious and generous awards.

Wright also is part of history in the making as she was one of two Waianae students to receive an all-expense paid four-year scholarship from the Gates Millennium Scholars (GMS) Program.

The GMS selects 1,000 outstanding students nationwide to receive this prestigious award, which the recipients can use at any college or university of their choice. Along with its scholarship, the GMS also provides personal and professional development through its leadership program, as well as academic support throughout its college career.

The list of Waianae High School's outstanding achievements, both in and out of JROTC is sometimes rather large, but also not well published, denying the community first-hand knowledge of such great success stories.

Senior Army instructor, retired Maj. Wil Alvarado, and assistant instructors, retired 1st Sgt. Milo Sinapati and retired Master Sgt. Haines Rego, collaboratively highly encourage, mentor and coach their cadets to achieve heights that cadets sometimes only dream about.

Cadets are taught to always try, despite any chance of hearing a "no."

Alvarado challenges cadets to start with a dream and then provides guidance on many options for cadets to begin their journey on their path to success, so they can realize their dreams.

The instructors thank their cadets for always giving 100 percent, and they point out that they are only able to dedicate extra time to cadets because of volunteers like Nakita Nieves and Creiton Higa who devote countless hours every day, allowing instructors the space for one-on-one guidance and mentoring.