We Are L.A. Unified

When the Van Nuys High School Army JROTC teams compete this summer in the national championship contest in Washington D.C., they will get a little extra help from another student leader.

Cadet Vanessa Rodrigues, a senior from Monroe High School is one of eight cadets selected from across the nation to serve as a Team Leader for the JROTC Leadership and Academic Bowl competition.

Chosen because of her leadership abilities, academic excellence, and achievements in the junior officer training program, she will have plenty to do. Her duties at the competition include assisting the Academic and Leadership Teams from all over the country, as well as escort VIPs, introduce speakers and help program directors from the JLAB Foundation.

“She is an outstanding Cadet Leader as well as an All-City Top 20 Cadet, who epitomizes the essence of what JROTC are all about and what a student/leader can achieve through hard work, dedication, and a willingness to take on greater leadership roles,” said U.S. Army (Retired) Lt. Col. Robert F. Huntly. He is the assistant director of Army Instruction for the District’s JROTC programs.

“We are so fortunate to have her as a Team Leader on site to provide support and encouragement to the Academic and Leadership Teams from Van Nuys High School, who will be competing at the national Level.”

Her leadership and work ethic are impressive. “Vanessa epitomizes the character of a solid student and citizen. This does prove that hard work in school will get you places, and in Vanessa’s case it is Washington, D.C.,” said Monroe Senior Army Instructor 1st Sergeant Charles A. Mujica (retired). “I've been very blessed to have such a wonderful student, cadet and feel secure in knowing our country's future is in good hands.”

Currently the battalion commander, Rodrigues has been in the program at Monroe all four years. Her decision to join began much earlier.

“When I was in eighth grade, cadets from Monroe high school came to visit my middle school to inform us about their JROTC program I was really impressed with their uniforms and all the volunteering they did. Upon entering high school I joined JROTC and was involved in all the activities possible,” she said.

“One of the things I like most about JROTC is the uniform. I wear my uniform with pride knowing that I am representing all the men and women that have served our country. I like the fact that in JROTC we are not just cadets we are family.”

Despite the demands of JROTC, she makes time for her studies and other activities.

“At school I am in the Engineering and Design Academy and in the School for Advanced Studies program,” Rodrigues said. “I am also in the Senior Club and Random Acts of Kindness Club. In our community, I often volunteer at Operation Gratitude at the National Guard Armory and at Project Angel Food.”

After graduation, Rodrigues plans to attend California State University of Fullerton and major in business.

- Gayle Pollard-Terry

To nominate a teacher, student, employee or volunteer, send an email to Thomas.Waldman@lausd.net, or call 213-241-6766. To see more profiles on the Distirct's website, go to http://bit.ly/1Fp25bG