Harlingen JROTC Students Win Top Awards at 8th Annual “Way to Happiness” Scholarship Competition


On April 16th, the winners of the eighth annual JROTC Way To Happiness Scholarship Competition were announced at the award presentation held at the offices of Harlingen Family Dentistry. The yearly competition is sponsored by Harlingen Family Dentistry, which awards $6,000 to the three winners upon registration in an institution of higher learning of their choice. Members of the local high school JROTC programs compete by presenting activities and programs they have personally done that implement one or more of the 21 precepts contained in the “Way to Happiness” book along with the JROTC Core Values in order to make the world a better place.

Lead judge, Major General Charles Rodriguez, Chief of Staff and Vice President of Texas A&M San Antonio, assisted by five judges of military rank, assessed the quality and results of the students’ projects. The judges’ informal advice encouraged students to “follow their own goals, work hard, and never give up”.

This year’s winners are:

  • Lucia Arellano, Harlingen High School, First Place Awardee

Lucia’s project focused on the importance of helping report and prevent sexual assault and its devastating consequences. She promoted Sexual Assault Awareness and organized the JROTC Stop Child Abuse/Assault 5K Run in Harlingen. Lucia applied the “Way to Happiness” precepts, “Set a Good Example”, “Love and Help Children”, and “Try to Treat Others as You Would Want Them to Treat You”. Her project also used the Army Core Values of Duty and Selfless Service, Integrity, and Personal Courage.


  • Tanya Cruz, Harlingen High School South, Second Place Awardee

Tanya demonstrated the three Air Force Core Values of Integrity, Service and Excellence through the implementation of community service events such as blood drives, can food drives, field trips, and other events. she performed 120 hours of community service and raised 115 pints of blood. Tanya applied the “Way to Happiness” precept, “Love and Help Children”, by teaching Sunday School and other church activities for children.


“We are very proud of these winners,” says sponsor, Dr. Villareal. “We are also proud and grateful for all the contestants who worked so hard with their instructors contributing to their community. As far as we are concerned, they are all winners.”


About the Competition:

To qualify, JROTC cadets were required to present a portfolio containing a JROTC Service Criteria resume, cover letter, certificates of achievement, and references.

Each Candidate in the competition presents a portfolio summation of results achieved in implementing the “Way to Happiness” precepts and JROTC Core Values. In addition, each student makes an oral and visual presentation to the judges, with project documentation.


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