If you are a regular at Paducah Tilghman High School football games, you have probably seen the color guard come out in crisp uniforms with the American and Kentucky flags flying high before the game’s kick off. The person in charge of that group? None other than Amiya Jones, a junior in the school’s Naval Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps, or NJRTOC.
Amiya isn’t shy about the impact being in NJROTC has had on her. She has spoken to several groups about her experience, including sharing her story as part of a Veteran’s Day program.
“ROTC has changed my life basically,” she said. “It taught me how to be a better leader, a better person, and helped me build up my self esteem.”
In her three years in the program she has won 23 ribbons and two medals, and connected with her classmates in the program. Amiya joined NJROTC because she wants to join the Navy, though she doesn’t want to join right after high school.
Not only does Amiya lead the group’s color guard, she is a part of their academic team and is involved with community service projects. The cadets in NJROTC have packed boxes for veterans and people serving overseas and participate in a sports day.
But Amiya said NJROTC isn’t just about joining the military; it’s about preparing students like her for what they want to do after high school. For Amiya, that means pursuing a path that would help people. She wants to go to college and study psychology or social work before joining the Navy.
Amiya has high academic achievements as well. She is a member of the National Honor Society and Beta Club and was chosen out to be one of four Paxton Scholars. That program awards six outstanding African American juniors at both Paducah Tilghman and McCracken County high schools with a scholarship based on their grade point average and a laptop to use after graduation.
Though she has had to take a break this year due to a leg injury and to focus on studying for her ACT, Amiya also runs track and field. But Amiya isn’t letting this setback stop her and is joyfully looking forward to run again next year after a stint as the team’s manager.