REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- A Huntsville City Schools JROTC cadet who exemplifies high standards of academic achievement, military leadership and personal character was honored during an Oct. 27 award presentation at Army Materiel Command headquarters.
AMC Deputy Commanding General Lt. Gen. Donnie Walker presented the Legion of Valor Bronze Cross for Achievement to Lee/New Century Technology High School JROTC Cadet Lt. Col. Weixing Zhang, who serves as battalion commander of her school’s JROTC unit. The Bronze Cross is a Department of the Army award presented annually to 75 JROTC cadets chosen through a nomination process by the Legion of Valor. It is one of the highest awards a JROTC cadet can receive.
“Weixing is a role model, the kind of young leader with the potential to shape and guide our Army in the future, and ensure its readiness to defend our nation,” Walker said. “We look forward to all your accomplishments in the future.”
As a senior at Lee/New Century Technology High School, Weixing not only leads the JROTC battalion, but also serves as the Alabama State Vice President for JROTC. She is also involved with the Student Government Association, Beta Club and National Honor Society, and helps with her family’s restaurant business. She maintains a 4.58 grade point average on a 4.0 scale, and has plans to attend either the Massachusetts Institute of Technology or the United States Military Academy at West Point, majoring in computer science.
During her comments to family members and friends, school teachers and administrators, mentors and fellow JROTC cadets who attended the presentation, Weixing thanked them for their support and encouragement to follow her dreams.
“This is kind of unbelievable. I never imagined getting such a prestigious award,” she said.
She especially expressed her appreciation to JROTC senior instructor retired Col. Diane Richie, calling her a mentor and coach and describing her as “the best role model and instructor anyone could ask for and who encouraged me to achieve the impossible.”
As a freshman JROTC cadet, she followed in the footsteps of her older sister, who has since graduated and now attends West Point, never realizing the impact the JROTC program would have on her own personal development.
“I remember how unsure I was about my decision to be in JROTC,” Weixing said. “I was shy and timid. This program motivates and encourages us to be our best. It gives us opportunities to fulfill our potential as leaders. It taught me the lessons of leadership, communication and personal growth.”
Walker said he is committed to recognizing leaders in the local JROTC program because of its mission to teach students about self-discipline, personal responsibility and the value of service to the community, and to increase student’s self-esteem, appreciation for the value of teamwork and sense of accomplishment.
“I was a product of an ROTC program in college,” he said. “JROTC is a great opportunity for any young person to get exposed to the military at a very young age.
Nationwide, more than 300,000 high school students out of more than 15 million choose to take on the challenge of JROTC, he said. And those cadets lead the way when it comes to attendance, graduation and grade point averages, outperforming their peers.
“Weixing is among the best. She has definitely established herself as a true standout,” Walker said.
Weixing is the second Lee/New Century Technology High School JROTC cadet to achieve the Bronze Cross. The other, then JROTC Cadet LTC and senior Ketty-Daphney Ngwese, received the award in November 2020, also from Walker.
“We have been blessed with great kids at our school,” JROTC instructor Richie said. “We just do a little tweaking, give them opportunities and watch them grow as leaders. It’s a learning process, a growth process for students who are already achievers. We let them lead, and they excel and rise to the top.”
Richie described Weixing “as one of those quiet heroes. She does more community service than I will ever know. What’s remarkable is that, during the (COVID-19) pandemic when we were struggling with education, she scored 35 on her ACT (college entrance exam) and kept a 4.87 grade point average.
“She has tenacity and doesn’t ever quit. Coming in second is not an option for her. Whatever she chooses to do in life, she will be phenomenal.”
Editor's Note: For more photos, visit the AMC Flickr album at: https://flic.kr/s/aHsmX2D7rK .