Tecumseh senior receives full Air Force ROTC scholarship
At a time when many seniors are scrambling to gather materials for scholarship applications, Tecumseh High School senior and Lenawee Intermediate School District TECH Center student Anna Wendt is breathing a little easier. She was recently offered an Air Force ROTC Commander’s Leadership scholarship, which will pay for tuition, books, fees and a stipend at Eastern Michigan University next fall.
“It doesn’t cover room and board, and I’ll still be looking for scholarships for that,” said Anna, “But having the bulk of my education taken care of is a big weight off my shoulders.” She estimates that otherwise, her family would have had to come up with approximately $16,000 per year for her to attend Eastern.
Anna has known since she was about 12 years old that she might like to go into the military. She said she recalls getting email chains back then.
“One day I got one about soldiers, showing them going through their daily life on active duty, and they were military members deployed to places like Iraq and Afghanistan,” she said. “I felt bad for what they were going through to make sure we could live the lives we do everyday, and I felt like I should do something to pay them back for their service, or helping in some way. So now I guess I will do that by being one of them. And I enjoy a challenge.”
Anna is a student in the LISD TECH Center’s Computer Information Services program and is a self-confessed “computer geek” — and proud of it. She said when she was younger she left the computer field up to her brothers, Oliver Jr., who is several years older, and Cameron, who had attended the LISD TECH Center’s computer programs.
“Cameron was fascinating and brilliant at it and I didn’t want much to do with computers,” she said. But then during sophomore visits, Anna encountered Mr. Carlos Garcia.
“He made his classes sound absolutely fascinating and I thought I might just want to do this in the future,” said Anna. As a junior, she enrolled in the class and loved it. “It’s probably the best choice I’ve made so far regarding school.” In addition to the TECH Center programs, Anna already has 10 credits toward a college degree in Computer Information Systems through the LISD College Now! Program and EMU. She is interested in cyber security and intends to actively pursue that area, and even could see herself in a future career with an agency such as the FBI or CIA.
After receiving counseling to try for a ROTC scholarship, including from recruiters, and since she wanted to finish school and then go into the military, Anna applied for the Air Force scholarship because of their computer class offerings. The Air Force ROTC detachment she would be associated with at EMU is headquartered at the University of Michigan, where Anna would spend time taking physical training, labs and one specific military course per semester.
“Otherwise, I would be a normal EMU student my freshman and sophomore years,” she said. “If all goes well, during my sophomore year, I would go through basic training as any other recruit might do, and when I finish my last two years and graduate, I would go on active duty and serve in the military for four years to pay them back.”
She had applied for the scholarship and then had to go through an interview process where she brought her resume and talked to officers about things she had accomplished during her school career. Anna interviewed well, and was invited to meet with the commander of the detachment.
“Typically, you get to the end of this process and your application is sent to the board for review and you hear a few months later by phone,” she said. “But after I met with the commander and talked about whether this was something I really wanted to do, she made the offer at the end of the interview. It was exciting. I felt like ‘Yes! My life is settled now. I know where I’m going and it’s awesome.’”
Long-term, Anna said she could possibly pursue the military as a career, or later go into cyber security and work for another agency. She enjoys trouble-shooting with computers, but is especially excited about cyber security, because “it’s like a puzzle,” and there is something new to learn everyday.
Anna said her parents, Christina and Oliver Wendt are getting used to her plans.
“They’re happy for me, but I’m their only daughter and I don’t think they were initially pleased that I’ve chosen the military, but they’re coming to terms with it,” she said. “They know I have to plan my future in a way that works for me, and they’re happy that I’ve got a plan made.”