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NBAHS JROTC students earn high honors


Pictured are (l to r): NBAHS AFJROTC Cadets Theodor Carjila and Dayna Nelson

Two North Branch Area High School (NBAHS) Air Force Junior Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) students have received wonderful news about their futures! Senior Cadet Theodor Carjila has been offered a direct appointment to the United States Air Force Academy from Congressman Pete Stauber, and Junior Cadet Dayna Nelson was selected to receive a scholarship to attend an accredited aviation university participating in a private pilot license training program in the summer of 2021.

Cadet Dayna Nelson
According to a press release from the Air Force, “Nelson is one of 230 Air Force Junior ROTC cadets around the world to receive the scholarship from Headquarters Air Force Junior ROTC, Maxwell Air Force Base, Montgomery, AL. More than 1340 cadets applied for one of the 230 scholarships. There are more than 120,000 high school students enrolled in Air Force Junior ROTC at almost 875 high schools in the U.S. and overseas. The scholarship covers transportation, room and board, academics and flight hours required to potentially earn a private pilot license. The scholarship is valued at approximately $22,500.”

The Flight Academy Scholarship Program is an Air Force-level initiative in collaboration with the commercial aviation industry to address the national civilian and military pilot shortage. The Flight Academy allows aspiring young aviators to get their Private Pilot’s Certification, at no cost, during an eight-week summer course at partner universities. This incurs no military commitment while providing a college transcript.

Nelson is in her third year of Air Force JROTC. She has risen through the ranks quickly and is currently a Cadet Major.  She has held all the tough jobs within the Cadet Corps to include Element Leader, Flight Sergeant, Color Guard Commander, Director of Operations and is currently the Operations Squadron Commander.

Nelson has competed in multiple JROTC competitions in multiple events earning trophies for the unit. She currently commands the Color Guard team, which is training for the Air Force JROTC and Joint Service JROTC National Championship Drill Meets.  

In the past two years, Nelson has participated in 88 community service events. Individually, she has earned 54 Air Force Junior ROTC ribbons and awards to include the national level awards of the Military Order of the Purple Heart and the American Veterans Award.

Colonel Johnson said of Nelson’s selection to receive the Air Force’s Flight Academy Scholarship, “Her selection to such an exclusive opportunity speaks volumes to her talent, dedication, and abilities!,” adding, “She is a very focused and determined young lady who has spent the past year preparing for this opportunity, and I am sure she will make the most of it!”

Cadet Theodor Carjila
As a sophomore, Carjila was a JROTC Element Leader, a position usually reserved for juniors.  In this position, he was responsible for approximately eight other cadets. He has earned two “Outstanding Flight” awards. As a junior he was the unit’s Personnel Officer. Carjila helped manage the 77 member cadet corps’ personnel records with great attention to detail. As the unit’s Public Affairs Officer, he managed and populated the Corps’ Facebook page highlighting cadet’s activities. Carjila’s constant excellence over the past three years has earned him the cadet position of Special Assistant for Cadet Corps Affairs/Operations for his senior year.  

Carjila has also served his community well.  Over the past three years he has participated in 46 community service events ranging from multiple Veteran’s Day ceremonies, marching in community parades, volunteering to watch children at school events/carnivals, packing food for “Feed My Starving Children”, and numerous school Flag details and school Pledge of Allegiance details. Individually, Carjila has earned several significant National Level Air Force Junior ROTC awards and medals including the Daedalian Award, the American Legion Scholastic Award and the Celebrate Freedom Award.  

Due to his outstanding academic record, Carjila has earned six Air Force Junior ROTC Academic Ribbons (maximum amount possible to date). In addition, he commands the Air Force Junior ROTC Kitty Hawk Air Society, the Academic/Knowledge Bowl Team and is an active member in North Branch Area High School’s National Honor Society.

JROTC instructor, Colonel Paul Johnson said, “With his strong, diverse background and heritage, fluency in multiple languages, and leadership training, Theodor Carjila is exactly the type of candidate we need in our Air Force.  He is among the best I have known in my four years of teaching Air Force Junior ROTC at North Branch Area High School!”

Congressman Pete Stauber, who secured Carjila’s appointment said, "Every year, I have the great honor of nominating young men and women from Minnesota's Eighth District to our nation’s prestigious Service Academies. This year, it was my pleasure to nominate Theodor Carjila as his story is one of hard work and perseverance. Moving to Minnesota from Romania with his mother, Theodor faced many challenges but overcame each and every one of them. He has distinguished himself through his impressive academic performance as well as his leadership and service in his community. Theodor has made his community incredibly proud and I thank him for choosing a path of service.”