St. John’s Students Surprised with Army ROTC Scholarships

Three students holding up checks to celebrate St. John's Minuteman Scholarship
May 15, 2023

Two incoming St. John’s University students and another in his first year were surprised with Army ROTC scholarships recently at a ceremony in Hauppauge, NY. 

Twins Courtney and Christopher Skahill of West Islip, NY, and Xain Zhuo (Anson) Dong of Flushing, NY, all received Minuteman Reserve Officer’s Training Corps (ROTC) Guaranteed Reserve Forces Duty (GRFD) scholarships valued at more than $300,000 apiece. The scholarships cover tuition, fees, and room and board, and include a monthly stipend provided the new cadets maintain minimum grade point average and physical fitness requirements.  

The new cadets also must serve in the Army’s Simultaneous Membership Program, which allows them to attend college while a member of a Reserve unit or ROTC battalion. The cadets will be expected to attend drill exercises one weekend each month in addition to two weeks of annual military training. 

The cadets said the scholarship awards are “life-altering” and look forward to joining the Red Storm Battalion

“We were shocked,” Courtney said. “It is an amazing opportunity that will help better our lives.”

The three St. John’s cadets joined three others at a government office in Suffolk County, NY, last month for what they were told were final interviews for the scholarships. Instead, they were stunned to receive the traditional oversize checks and be told they were all scholarship winners.

The three St. John’s scholarship winners join high school senior Sadé Webb of the Bronx, NY, who in November won a similar Army GRFD scholarship to attend the University. Sadé, who will begin her studies at St. John’s in the fall, plans to study biology and potentially attend medical school.

Anson, who recently completed his first semester at St. John’s, is pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry at St. John’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. He graduated from Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan in 2022.   

Fraternal twins Courtney and Christopher, both 18, will graduate in June from West Islip High School. Courtney, who plans to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in Homeland Security at The Lesley H. and William L. Collins College of Professional Studies, is the older of the twins by 15 minutes. 

“The ability to serve my country is an honor, and being in the military will help me so much in life,” Courtney said.  

Christopher intends to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting or Finance at The Peter J. Tobin College of Business. He chose St. John’s because of its reputation within the New York City business community. 

“I was always curious about the military. When I found out more information, I knew it was something I wanted to be a part of,” Christopher said. “I was motivated to join because of all the skills, experiences, benefits, and life-lasting friendships you can gain.” 

The Minuteman Scholarship program was launched in 2015 with the goal of helping the Army recruit qualified future cadets every year. In return for the scholarship benefits, cadets must serve as commissioned officers in either the Army National Guard or Army Reserve for eight years after college graduation. 

Members of the Red Storm battalion are excited to have the trio joining the unit. “They are all outstanding students and will make wonderful additions to the Red Storm battalion,” said James Johnson, Recruiting Officer for St. John’s ROTC program. “They’ve demonstrated a commitment to their country and their school that we can all appreciate.”   

Scholarship winners are required to enroll at a college or university with an active Army ROTC battalion. St. John’s, recently named a top “military friendly” institution, was an easy choice, the new cadets said.

“I love how the Homeland Security program was developed at St. John’s,” Courtney said. “I also was attracted to the beautiful campus and how administrators help you plan your future.”

“St. John’s offers incredible opportunities,” Christopher added.