The Department of the Air Force announced this week it has extended more than 100 scholarship offers to new students attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the fall of 2020, as part of its efforts to increase diversity in its officer ranks.
The Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps coordinated with leadership within Junior ROTC and its aviation program, the AFJROTC Flight Academy, to find rising college freshmen who had demonstrated leadership ability, aviation competencies, a propensity to serve in the U.S. military and an interest in attending an HBCU.
“Air Force senior leadership wants to drive opportunities for both our Department, in how we embrace a more inclusive culture, and for our ROTC students to rise to an academic challenge,” said Brig. Gen. Leslie A. Maher, commander of the Jeanne M. Holm Center for Officer Accessions and Citizen Development. “Thus, in coordination with the Diversity & Inclusion Task Force, the leadership requested something new and bold from ROTC in order to pursue increasing the diversity of accessions through the ROTC program.”
As part of this program, students who remain in good standing with ROTC at HBCUs will receive four-year, Type 1 scholarships that cover full tuition and fees, and provide an annual book stipend. Students offered the scholarships come from a full spectrum of racial, ethnic and gender categories, as required by law. However Air Force leadership have highlighted the benefits of targeting particular institutions.
“Although HBCUs make up a small percentage of our nation’s colleges and universities, they have historically graduated a large percentage of Black/African-Americans with STEM degrees,” said Col. Christopher Bennett, Air Force ROTC commander. “Additionally, because the student bodies of HBCUs tend to have a higher percentage of racial and ethnic diversity, students at those schools have more opportunities to learn from the valuable insights of their peers that should help them be better leaders to all the diverse Airmen they will be responsible to lead.”
Some of the students chosen to receive these scholarships had been vetted through the competitive Flight Academy selection process, and had been assessed by program commanders to have demonstrated leadership traits the Air Force is looking for in its officer corps. All the scholarship students will meet the standards of ROTC scholarship recipients to keep the scholarship through their school tenure and commission upon graduation.
To learn more about the AFROTC program to include scholarships, visit https://www.afrotc.com.