Rhett Robinson, a recently graduated alum of White County High School’s Class of 2021, has signed a letter of intent to attend the University of North Georgia, one of the nation’s six senior military colleges.
“I was very surprised when I was accepted,” Robinson said. “I considered it an honor to have even been considered.”
Robinson has been preparing for a military career for the past four years and, for him, this is the next logical step on a path he began as a freshman at White County High School.
“During high school, I participated in the WCHS JROTC Battalion,” Robinson said.
It was there that Robinson learned about the nation’s senior military academies and the scholarship he was ultimately awarded.
“Without this program, Sgt. Maj. West, and Maj. McIntyre, I never would have been able to achieve this,” Robinson said.
Robinson’s award comes with not only a scholarship but also a monthly salary and a semester book stipend as he works through the program at the University of North Georgia before being commissioned as a second lieutenant in the active-duty Army after graduation.
“As parents, it’s scary. We have always been supportive of Rhett’s decisions. On the flip side of that it’s a lot to ask of an 18-year-old as to what they think they want to do for the next seven-plus years,” Robinson’s parents, Denny Wayne and Sheila Robinson, said. “Like all parents, we had lots of conversations, explained all kinds of scenarios, and checked into lots of different options, but, at the end of the day, it was his decision, and we support him.”
Rhett Robinson promptly set some lofty goals for himself to go along with the decision he made.
“I am excited about the military training I will receive in college,” he said. “I plan to be a part of the Mountain Order of Colombo Team, one of the specialty units at University of North Georgia, which teaches tactical rappelling and climbing skills, small unit tactics, individual small arms skills, and hand-to-hand combat.”
Robinson said he also plans to reduce his time and run a six-minute mile as well as become a non-commissioned officer in the University of North Georgia Corps.
“I am also excited about having an opportunity to meet new people and be surrounded by beautiful mountains just like here,” he said.
Robinson’s parents are neither surprised by his bold goals nor do they doubt that he will accomplish all he has set out to do.
“We want Rhett to know that we believe in him. We support him to dream big and go after what he wants,” Sheila Robinson said, before offering some advice for her son to carry with him over this next part of his journey to the future he is building. “Never be discouraged that life is hard, but everything you make it through makes you a stronger person and shapes you into a leader. Never give up. Work hard, stay true to who you are. Remember your Christian values, and that nothing is possible without God.”
Rhett Robinson knows that receiving a scholarship to the top school on his list of possible future training places did not come through accident or without the help from leaders, friends, and family.
“There is a mountain of people I have to thank for being here and receiving this scholarship,” he said. “First of all, I’d like to thank Maj. McIntyre and Sgt. Maj. West, my JROTC instructors. Before them, I didn’t know what a senior military college was or that this scholarship existed. I would also like to thank Jennifer and David Cranford, family friends. They have always been there for me for extra advice and a different glimpse into the world, and they have always tried to get me to aim for the top. Terry and Kelly Speck, my rifle coaches, since sixth grade have also greatly contributed to who I am today, and I’m very grateful. Additionally, I’d like to thank my fellow cadets in Warrior Battalion, especially Johnny Hayes, Amelia Cooper, Abigail Cooper, Seth Speck, Dylan Goodwin, Camron Mennard, Makayla Dickson, Eli Stewart, Joe Readmon, and Evan Smith, just to name a few. These are the people who have most motivated me to be my best and kept the battalion running.”
Robinson knows that, while his days at White County High School have ended, the time he spent as part of the school’s JROTC Battalion were essential in getting to where he is going.
“Take time to enjoy yourself,” he said. “Take it all in. It will be over before you know.”
Rhett Robinson advised the cadets who would be replacing himself next year to become volunteers and participate in community events. He also voiced a vote of confidence for the leadership they will provide.
“The battalion is a family; always treat your battalion brothers and sisters with respect,” he said.
Robinson’s parents said they have faced the official signing and all that has transpired since with mixed emotions.
“We are very proud of Rhett and his accomplishments,” Sheila Robinson said. “Rhett has worked hard and has made the most of his four years at WCHS, but it is sad that this chapter is coming to an end. We are excited to see what Rhett achieves next.”
Rhett Robinson plans to continue following the same advice he leaves for his fellow WCHS seniors who all crossed the stage during the 2021 commencement ceremony last month.
“I wish them all the best in the future,” he said. “I hope they all dream big and go after and achieve their goals.”