Nimitz High School senior Emma Huckeba was recently awarded the Navy Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (NJROTC) Area 19 Joseph C. Gilliam Academic Achievement Award. She is the first Cadet to receive this award in the history of the Nimitz NJROTC program. 

“I’m the only female in my household, so achieving this award and having the opportunity to be a part of ‘herstory’ is very emotional for me. I owe many of my successes to my Senior Naval Science Instructor, Lt. Trevor Smalls, and being able to achieve this award for not just myself but for him and my school means the world to me. I’m extremely excited to add this to my achievements due to the gravity it holds for me and my NJROTC unit,” says Huckeba. 

This award was established over 40 years ago to honor outstanding Cadets who achieve exemplary work in the NJROTC program and excellence in academics. 30 NJROTC units from the region submitted students for this prestigious award, with only a select few receiving the honor. For Huckeba, it was a complete surprise. 

“I was sitting at the Texas A&M State Championship and just brushed it off thinking that out of the schools in my area, there was no way I’d be picked,” she says. “I remember my friend turning to me and mentioning how if anyone were to get it, it would be me, but I still couldn’t believe that. It all became so real once my name was announced. I was honestly shocked. Nothing in that moment would have wiped the smile off my face. Winning this award has been very motivating because of everything I’ve faced in just the last five years, and I hope to inspire my peers to push past their limits and shoot for the stars just as much as I do. It is up to my generation to be the next successors, and I can humbly say that I will be one of them.”

While she has yet to commit to a college, Huckeba has plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in biology after graduating high school to fulfill her dream of becoming a veterinarian.