July 9, 2007

Kyllo receives ROTC, Nat'l Merit scholarships

LP graduate pursues future in US Air Force

By Samantha Schommer
Staff Intern

When one skips a year of high school, many doors can be expected to be opened, with a bright future ahead.

Such is true for Lester Prairie native, Rachel Kyllo.

The daughter of Barry and MerriLea Kyllo, Rachel, has been putting all her effort into studying since she was a child, and now it has finally paid off.

Last fall, in what would have been her senior year if she had not skipped junior year, Kyllo began studying full-time at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.

She enrolled in the Air Force’s ROTC (Reserve Officers’ Training Corps) program as well, and began her studies.

The ROTC program includes classes that are focused on military training for the first two years. The remaining two years of college involve training underclassmen about what you learned in your first two years.

ROTC students learn something different each semester, including a broad overview and history of the Air Force, with tests given on the courses.

After the classroom portion is complete, the students begin leadership training.

“Every Wednesday, ROTC students wear their uniforms for what is called a ‘leadership lab,’ in which you learn how to march and salute, etc.,” Kyllo said.

ROTC students must present themselves in a way that best represents the Air Force.

After earning a 4.0 GPA in her first two semesters at the University of Minnesota, and presenting a noticeable leadership quality, Kyllo was chosen by Lt. Colonel Ballinger to receive the Commander’s Leadership award.

The award usually goes to someone who goes in front of the board to be evaluated to receive the award and scholarship. Kyllo simply enrolled in the program, did her best, and was specifically chosen to receive the honor.

In addition, Kyllo also received an ROTC scholarship in May.

This scholarship includes tuition paid in full, money for books, as well as a monthly stipend for expenses.

“It’s a very good deal, and I’m lucky to have gotten it,” Kyllo stated.

For every year of schooling that the military pays for through this scholarship, Kyllo is required to serve a year in the Air Force.

Since she plans on going to medical school after college, this will be a total of eight years of schooling, plus the required internships before she can reach her ultimate goal of becoming a physician stationed in the Air Force.

Although she is not quite sure what type of physician she will become, Kyllo knows that she is heading down the right path.

“I want to use my talents to help people in a different way; by applying my knowledge and learning new things, I want to helps others,” she said.

Kyllo enjoys learning new things, and with the ever-changing medical field, there will be plenty of opportunities for her to update her knowledge and skills.

For several years, Kyllo has been working at the Good Samaritan Home in Waconia, gaining not only valuable experience, but plenty of skills that will benefit her future career.

Kyllo’s mother, MerriLea, works at Hutchinson Community Hospital, so she would like to do some job shadowing there to gain as much experience as possible.

It is experience that has gotten her to where she is today.

With teachers that know you by name, and a great school spirit, Lester Prairie High School was an excellent foundation for this future doctor.

“Going to high school at Lester Prairie allowed me to tailor my curriculum and participate in extracurricular activities,” Kyllo stated.

Not only is Lester Prairie High School where she has her educational background, it is where she took the PSAT test.

Taking this test and getting a good score qualified Kyllo to receive a National Merit Scholarship.

Since she took the PSAT as a senior, instead of as a junior, to qualify her for the National Merit Scholarship.

When it came time to send in grades and SAT scores, which are taken after the PSAT, to qualify for the scholarship, Kyllo was already enrolled at the University, so she sent in her college grades to further qualify her to receive the scholarship.

Kyllo was chosen to receive the annual $1,000 scholarship from the National Merit Scholarship program out of over 1.4 million students across the nation that take the qualifying PSAT test.

Kyllo does not let things like a full ride through college or being a Merit Scholarship winner go to her head.

She remains humble about her achievements and continues to work toward her future goals.

Taking after both of her parents, her father in the Navy, and her mother in the medical field, Rachel Kyllo sees them as her driving motivation to work hard for what she has earned.

“My parents both enjoy what they do, so I’m looking forward to my future as a physician in the Air Force, following in both of their footsteps,” Kyllo declared.

Brains may lead you to do many things, but having a heart to back them up like Rachel Kyllo, can lead you to places one never imagined possible.

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