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Scholarships Help Top-ranked ROTC Cadet

Scholarships Help Top-ranked ROTC Cadet

Photo of Cadet Aaron Goodwin in Military FatiguesAaron Goodwin knew in elementary school that he wanted to join the military. Academics were never high on his priority list, so at the age of 18, he joined the Air Force. After eight and a half years active duty, he worked several labor-intensive jobs, such as construction and in the oil fields. It was then that he decided to make education a priority.

While living in North Dakota, he met his wife (who is also active military), and she was stationed at F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne. Since he was close to Laramie, Aaron transferred to UW. He graduates in May with a degree in economics, then hopes to get into a grad program for his MBA.

“I love what the University of Wyoming has to offer as far as academic pursuits,” explains Aaron. “The economics program here is something that I was really interested in doing, and then when I talked to the undergraduate economic advisor, Dr. Finnoff, it just sold it for me.”

He is the recipient of the Lois Mottonen Scholarship and the Kenneth Thomas and Ruth Graham Scoon Memorial Trust Scholarship, which were provided through the College of Business, along with stipends from the Veterans Affairs office and the University of Wyoming ROTC program.

The Lois Mottonen Scholarship was created by Lois Mottenen in 2012. It is awarded to juniors or seniors with a 3.0 or higher grade point average. In 2013–14, two scholarships were awarded, one of which went to Aaron.

The Kenneth Thomas and Ruth Graham Scoon Memorial Trust Scholarship was created in 2004 through a bequest. It is awarded to students born in Wyoming, and the scholarship can be given to the same student for no more than 4 years. The scholarship was first awarded in the 2007–08 school year. Sixty-five scholarships have been awarded this past year.

The scholarships had a huge impact on Aaron’s life by helping him financially so he could focus on his studies, but becoming a member of the Cowboy Battalion (UW Army ROTC) has also made a significant impact.

“The Army ROTC program here has an amazing ability to take young people and mold them into effective leaders,” says Aaron. “The program here really provided us with the tools to pursue our academics.”

Recently, the Cowboy Battalion received the 2013–14 Cochise Award for the Best Small Unit in the 5th Brigade that covers the region from Wyoming to Texas and Arizona to Arkansas. The 5th Brigade consists of 36 host schools and more than 20 smaller or satellite schools.

The UW Cowboy Battalion was selected for the honor based, in part, on the quantity and quality of commissioned officers the program produces. In 2014, the UW Army ROTC commissioned 19 second lieutenants. In 2015, the program is poised to commission 23—a number that is 153 percent above mission requirements.

Aaron is ranked No. 9 in the nation out of more than 5,600 cadets—an amazing achievement. His ranking was determined by a number of criteria including grade point average, physical fitness, and performance during summer training. In addition to being recognized for the quantity and quality of commissioned officers, the Cowboy Battalion was honored with the award for meeting all other requirements established to recruit, retain, train, and commission officers.

“The hype is real,” says Aaron. “The University of Wyoming offers a really good ROTC program, which pulled me into it, and from there I’m in the National Guard for the Army here in the state of Wyoming, and I intend to stay in the National Guard indefinitely or until they retire me out.”

Since making education a top priority, Aaron has guaranteed himself a bright future. With the support of private donors, UW, and the Army ROTC, Aaron is armed with the knowledge and skills to be successful in whatever he pursues.

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