Published on April 9th, 2019 | by Millennium Magazine Staff


School District Five student receives coveted Air Force ROTC scholarship

Photo Credit:  Senior JROTC Instructor Major Jason Huffman (L), Cadet Arista Couture, Chief Master Sergeant Steven Turner (R)

IRMO – Cadet Colonel Arista Couture, a senior at Irmo High School, was recently selected to receive an Air Force Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) scholarship. The Type 7 scholarship pays full tuition, plus books and gives a monthly stipend. Couture, who plans to attend The Citadel upon graduation, says this is a dream come true.

“I live with my grandparents and wanted to pay for my college myself. When I found out I received the scholarship, I actually started crying. I was just so overwhelmed with happiness. It was like a weight was lifted off of my chest and I knew this was something I earned myself,” said Couture.

Chief Master Sergeant Steven Turner, Irmo High’s Air Force Junior ROTC instructor, said Couture is deserving of everything she’s worked for.  

“Arista is very conscientious and attentive to all that she does. She wants to do everything perfect and right. She’s been a great student and is very deserving of this scholarship. She’s worked hard and there’s no question she’s earned it,” said Turner.

Couture plans on majoring in nursing at The Citadel and wants to go into the air force as either a flight nurse or work in a hospital. She said joining the ROTC program helped direct her path and show her that a job in the military was what she really wanted.

“I’ve always been interested in the medical field,” said Couture. “I enjoy helping people, but I wanted to do more than the everyday nurse. Thanks to my dad, who served in the Army National Guard, I was exposed to the military at a young age. Entering high school I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life, but I knew I wanted to go to college. After starting ROTC I just fell in love with it. It felt so natural and at home to me and I knew it was where I was supposed to be.”

Upon joining the ROTC program at Irmo High School, students are given the option to take part in a number of extracurricular activities ranging from drill team, color guard and the Raider Team to drums and bagpipes, aerospace and academic teams. Couture said taking part in the various activities has helped shaped her into being a leader, but that ultimately it was her teachers that pushed her to be the person she is today.

“A lot of our teachers see that we are in ROTC so they have higher standards for us. They know we aren’t just upperclassmen, but are also representing the core and have the core values we must follow too. I’ve learned that if you are involved and respect the values of ROTC, it will definitely prepare you for your future,” said Couture.

Turner echoed those comments, applauding the teachers at Irmo High for helping Couture be successful along with so many others at the school.

“The teachers here and the course material they teach have really set her (Couture) up for a great future. It was her will and want to succeed, but the teachers really pushed her to achieve more and work harder. Like all of our teachers, I love seeing our students go on and do great things and know that I played a small part in that,” said Turner.

Irmo High School principal Dr. Robin Hardy praised Couture for her hard work and dedication to not only Irmo High, but to her future in the military.

Hardy said, “Arista Couture commands respect.  Her leadership abilities communicate strength, clarity, and vision.  She represents the best of the best in our military and will serve us proudly at The Citadel and beyond.”

Couture added that she loves ROTC because they are all one big family and encouraged any student who is interested in going into the military, but doesn’t have any experience, to check out the ROTC program because it is a great way to get a sneak peak of how things are in the military.

“When I was trying to decide if I wanted to pursue a career in the military, the ROTC program at Irmo High School helped me make that decision.  And not only that, but I’ve developed great relationships with a lot of great people. People who have inspired me and pushed me to be a better person. ROTC is definitely a family,” said Couture.

She then continued to praise Irmo High School as a whole.

“No matter what path you take at Irmo High, the teachers are passionate about what they teach. We have great arts programs as well as the International Baccalaureate and athletic programs here. There’s just so much that makes Irmo High special and you know when you come here you’re going to receive a great education,” said Couture.

Turner reiterated those remarks and went as far as to call Couture a game changer for our country.

Turner said, “Irmo High is a great school. This school has and will continue to produce some great students. Arista is going to be a game changer, she’s going to make a difference, a lasting impact on everybody she comes into contact with. I wish her all the best!”

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