Kaiser Senior JROTC Cadet receives rare J100 college scholarship

Kailani Clark (KC), Copy Editor

During the first month of the new year, Kaiser Air Force JROTC Cadet Major Michelle Chang received the award of the J100 JROTC scholarship,which grants , full tuition to any college of her choosing with an Air Force ROTC detachment.

The J-100 Character-in-Leadership scholarship is an honor that focuses on character, leadership, citizenship, and diversity, and is eligible for senior cadets only. It is an excellent opportunity to inspire cadets to seek careers in the Air Force and Space Force.

The scholarship includes the following:

  • Four years of 100% paid tuition at any university, or crosstown partner, with an AFJROTC detachment
  • A 10,000 per-year allowance for university-owned / on-campus housing
  • An annual book stipend, and a monthly cadet stipend

A nominated cadet must have at least two years of JROTC experience and must first accept the nomination to be eligible for the award, pursuing an officer commission when received.

Cadet Major Michelle Chang received her certificate of acceptance in class on January 11, 2023. She has been in the Kaiser JROTC program for her entire high school career, revering it for its team bonding experiences and opportunities for life after graduation.

Born and raised in the same house here on Oahu, Cadet Major Chang fell in love with the landscape and nature of the island. Her free time is spent on hikes and beach days when not taken up by practices for track and field at Kaiser.

Chang joined the Kaiser track and field team as a freshman. As an avid runner, she became close friends with Chloe Kinlaw, a graduated JROTC member and track star.

“As a freshman, I greatly admired my upperclassmen friends,” says Chang. “They inspired me to try new things, including JROTC.”

The Kaiser High School JROTC program has sported three seniors to win this particular J-100 scholarship in a row. Cadet Major Chang is close friends with both of the previous recipients of the past two years: Chloe Kinlaw and (one year before) Nick Windisch.

For her chosen officer commission, a requirement of the scholarship, Chang is set on a career in public affairs and digital communications. Her first choice is media management. Depending on her chosen school and possible bases in the state, however, she acknowledges the fact that many of her decisions may be “decided for me.”

Her college of choice, the University of Washington, has yet to send a letter of acceptance. In the meantime, she has acceptance letters from backup schools of her choosing, including Colorado State University, Oregon State University, and South California State University.

This scholarship for the Air Force is a far cry from what Chang expected of her future mere years ago. As a freshman, she had been looking into the arts of painting and drawing. As a junior, however, plans began to change, in what she called her “year of self-reflection.”

Chang’s introduction to JROTC was conflicting, as she herself did not see its future benefits at the time. But with the inspiration of upperclassmen friends, especially Kinlaw and Windisch, Chang began to see the opportunities beyond a high school setting.

Chang will be the first in her family to pursue a college education immediately after high school graduation, as both of her parents are immigrants from Korea and her siblings’ career choices took them elsewhere. She will also be the first to enter into a military career, inspired not by a family member of the same background but simply by personal aspirations and motivation.

Don’t let your fear of being uncomfortable limit the possibilities of your future.

— Cadet Major Chang

Cadet Major Chang’s junior ‘year of reflection’ led her to realize the reason behind her early apprehension about the JROTC program. “It was fear,” she stated confidently, “of all the scary stereotypes that come with a military career.” The inspiration from her close friends (and their receiving of the same scholarship years before) allowed her to realize the “achievable and attainable” aspects of alternative goals.

Recognizing the change for her future that would come with a changed focus for the present, Chang allowed JROTC and track to bring her out of her comfort zone and present her with new possibilities for after graduation.

While still acknowledging her journey ahead, Chang prepares to leave underclassmen on campus with the message she learned in her years of reflection and change.

“Don’t let your fear of being uncomfortable limit the possibilities of your future.”