Los Fresnos News

Rio Grande Valley JROTC High School Students Win Top Awards at the 12th Annual Way to Happiness Scholarship Competition

Left to right: (Ret.) Ethan Rogers, 3rd place, Edinburg High School North, Angelika Gaure, First Place-Harlingen High School, Stephanie Cantu, Second Place-San Benito High School, Dr. Juan D. Villarreal, sponsor. Courtesy Photo

Harlingen Family Dentistry hosted its 12th annual values-based Scholarship Competition.  Students were acknowledged and awarded for their community projects that incorporated one or more of The Way to Happiness precepts and one or more of the JROTC Core Values.

Students are required to present a portfolio summation of results achieved in their implementing of “the Way to Happiness” precepts and the JROTC Core Values.  In addition, each student presented an oral and visual presentation to the judges with project documentation.

Schools from across the Rio Grande Valley participated in the contest. The three winners will share $6,000 in scholarships when they register in an institution of higher learning of their choice.

The 2018 First Place Winner, $3,000.00 scholarship award:

Angelika Gaure, Harlingen High School, Instructor, MSG Tony Gonzalez

Project: THE RONALD MCDONALD HOUSE-Her JROTC team had a Pull Tab collection, cleaned and organized the facility and made friends with the children.

The Second Place Winner, $2,000.00 scholarship award: Stephanie Cantu, San Benito High School JROTC, Instructor Captain Nels Swanson

Project: Stephanie presented her program on the Motor Activity Training Program at the Special Olympics for Children.

Third Place Winner, $1,000.00:Ethan Rogers, Edinburg North High School, Instructor LTC James Trolia

Project: DOMINICAN REPUBLIC SERVICE TRIP BUILDING HOUSES.  Ethan learned how to build houses using plastic bottles and chicken wire and plaster.  As they built the houses, Ethan and his team taught the local residents.

Runners-up winners: $100.00


Juan Castro-Rio Hondo High School, LTC Clifford Moriary Project-BULLYING AND SCHOOL VIOLANCE

Elijah Maldonado, Harlingen High School South, Instructor MSG Armando Tsukano-Project-PERSONAL LESSONS LEARNED


Jocelyn Garcia, Veteran’s Memorial High School Brownsville, Instructor 1st Sgt. Christine Ramos Project-MENTORING CHILDREN OF ALL AGES FROM BROKEN HOMES

Jimmy Gonzalez-San Benito High School, Instructor Captain Nels Swanson-Project-TREASURE HILLS CANNED FOOD DRIVE


  • LTG Ricardo Sanchez Retired, CEO Optech Enterprise Solutions
  • Dr. Kirstina Stillsmoking, Major US Army retired, director UTRGU Simulation Center Hospital School of Medicine, retired
  • Captain Michael Roberson, US Army company commander, Rio Grande Recruiting Company Unit
  • Esteban Mejia, Master Sergeant, US Air Force Reserves, Serving as 1st SGT. for the 433 Logistics Support, Owner Sky IT Solutions
  • Serafin Padron Manager Walgreens Tyler
  • Nemecio Lopez-Attorney
  • Al Garcia, SGT US Army Combat Journalist, (Ret.) Published Author
  • Judy Emsley-Judge and Portfolio Judge, retired administrator for Harlingen CISD, Rotarian
  • Ozdy Campos, SSG Sgt. US Army- timekeeper
  • Jesus Gaeta, SSG US Army- timekeeper assistant
  • Janie Sandoval, Tabulator, RGV Credit Union Manager

Portfolio Judge: Judy Emsley, Retired Harlingen High School South Facilitator, Rotarian

Competition Director: Gail Thomason

Sponsor: Dr. Juan D. Villarreal, DDS

Lunch sponsored by Chick-fil-A