When Aaron Williams CE ’15 returns to campus in the fall to continue his pursuit of a degree in civil engineering, he will do so with help from the Army ROTC Freedom Battalion, a consortium of ROTC programs from colleges and universities in the region. Williams, along with Villanova biochemistry student Katelyn Bard, earned a three-year, full tuition scholarship to help offset the cost of his higher education. They accepted their awards at the Freedom Battalion’s annual awards ceremony on April 20 at The Heritage Ballroom in Ridley Park, Pa.
“Throughout my life, I have had an interest in military service—my father and grandfather both served in the United States Army. I have found the ROTC program at Villanova to be both challenging and rewarding. I have met incredible people who inspire and motivate me on a daily basis, and I feel that ROTC provides me with a type of discipline that allows me to push through day-to-day challenges that might ordinarily seem overwhelming,” says Williams. “With the scholarship, I will be able to continue to develop my leadership skills and advance in my engineering studies at a much lower cost. I am extremely thankful for this opportunity and look forward to continuing to grow as a leader and engineer.”
Army ROTC is the single largest source of scholarship money in the United States. The Freedom Battalion consists of more than 130 cadets from four schools: Villanova University, Widener University, West Chester University, and the Pennsylvania State University (Abington). Twelve cadets in the Freedom Battalion competed for three available scholarships. Cadets were evaluated on physical fitness, academic GPA, and ROTC GPA. They also attended an oral board in front of Battalion Cadre members, where they were tested on cumulative knowledge from their freshman ROTC instruction and military bearing.
For two of three scholarships to be awarded to Villanova cadets speaks to the excellence of the program and its students. “Villanova ROTC scholars come from a longstanding legacy of academic excellence in both their chosen majors and in their ROTC studies. Currently, 88 percent of our cadets have earned scholarships to support their education,” says U.S. Army Capt. Russ Watkins, Assistant Professor of Military Science at Villanova.
Williams’ scholarship will help cover annual tuition and the cost of books, while also providing a tax-free living stipend. Click here for more information on Army ROTC scholarship opportunities through Villanova.