Monroe native awarded NROTC Scholarship

Jun. 01, 2013 @ 04:39 PM

The U.S. Marine Corps awarded the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps Scholarship to Dalton J. Graybill during a May 28 ceremony held at Piedmont High School.

The NROTC scholarship, valued at up to $180,000, will pay for the cost of full tuition, books and other educational fees at many of the country’s leading colleges and universities. Upon graduation, Marine-option midshipmen are commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps.

Graybill, who competed against other high school seniors and college freshmen from throughout the U.S., plans to attend the University of South Carolina this fall as a Marine-option midshipman.

The Piedmont High School senior said he pursued the scholarship as a way to obtain a college education, lead Marines, and serve his fellow Americans.

“The United States Marine Corps offers opportunities for service, self-improvement, and following tradition,” Graybill said. “As a Marine, I will get to serve my county, work as a team member and lead Marines to accomplish goals and other tasks, and follow in my family’s footsteps.”

Graybill identified his grandfather, who served as a Marine, as an influential factor in the development of his own moral values. He believes his academic and extracurricular background, with an emphasis on serving as both a leader and a team member, will directly correlate to the life of a Marine officer. He also desires the opportunity to expose himself to new challenges, one that he views as the greatest challenge he will ever face.

Kathy Cooper, the senior counselor at Piedmont High School, believes that Graybill is not only willing, but able to take on this new challenge and succeed. She said his performance in academics and on the school wrestling team has demonstrated his true potential.

“Dalton is a hardworking and dependable young man who possesses exceptional morals and personal integrity,” Cooper said. “The wrestling coaches of his state champion team say that he ranks as a true leader by actions for the team.

“His school record is exemplary, and he always handles himself in a manner that speaks highly of his character,” she added. “Dalton is an exceptional young man full of promise and possibility.”

Jennifer T. Guignard, a math teacher at Piedmont High School, supported Cooper’s evaluation of Graybill.

“He is respected by his peers and is a natural leader as well as a productive group member,” Guignard said. “Dalton is a mature young man with a desire to succeed in all that he endeavors.”

Graybill’s academic success is accompanied by exceptional extracurricular involvement. He has committed himself to volunteer activities throughout his high school years. For three summers, he participated in Carolina Cross Connection, a week-long program designed to provide assistance to members of the community with disabilities and financial need. He and his fellow volunteers built wheel chair ramps, replaced flooring, painted houses, built porches, and performed a variety of landscaping jobs for the disabled each summer.

He also obtained a lifeguard certification, in addition to other certifications in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), automated external defibrillator (AER) operation, and first aid through the American Red Cross. 

A member of the Piedmont High School varsity wrestling team since his freshman year, Graybill has developed the ability to not only meet, but exceed expectations, according to Coach James O. Belk.

“Dalton performs very well in pressure situations,” Belk said. “Dalton wrestles for Piedmont High School, and it was Dalton’s take down that led our team to win our regional final and go on to win a state championship this past season. Dalton has wrestled for us for three years in which we have made the state finals all three times.”

Belk said Graybill’s character and integrity stand out among the student athletes that he has coached throughout the past 11 years. He stresses that others can count on Graybill to do the right thing regardless of who is watching.

Gary Olson, a martial arts instructor in Monroe community, watched Graybill grow up over the past nine years while under his tutelage. Olson has helped Graybill to reach remarkable goals, such as obtaining his first-degree black belt in Kempo Karate, which Graybill has trained in since the second grade.

“He gives 100 percent to be better than the previous class,” Olson said. “He has always done well in school even with his wrestling and coming to karate classes two times a week. He has stuck with it and completed training to receive a black belt in our system.”

Graybill has also taught others in Kempo Karate for the past year and a half. He leads student drills and teaches specific techniques that he learned with Olson’s help. Through his experiences, he has learned that leadership is much more than the average student may think.

“From teaching, I have learned to be a leader and that teamwork is essential to completing tasks,” Graybill said. “I have learned that it takes a whole different type of person to be a leader. It takes someone who is dedicated, someone that can lead and is willing to solve problems that he or she faces, and someone who is always looking to improve.”

Olson said he is confident that Graybill will continue to succeed as he moves on to the next chapter of his life at the University of South Carolina, as he chases his dream in becoming a U.S. Marine Corps officer.