It isn't often that an 18-year-old knows what he wants to do with his life, but Andrew Justice has charted his path through to retirement.
Justice, a senior at Evans High School, said he hopes to use his leadership role in the school's JROTC program as a springboard for a career in the military. Last year, he was picked to lead the drill team, the only junior ever to receive the honor. His leadership took the team all the way to a state championship title, and he is the commander of this year's drill team.
"I felt like I needed discipline to help me get on the right track," said Justice, who joined the Knights' JROTC program as a freshman. "When I joined JROTC, I started getting better grades and doing better."
Sgt. Sammie Stokes, who is retired from the Army and an assistant instructor in the school's JROTC department, said Justice "dives into any project or assignment with enthusiasm and drive. He has a keen mind that is constantly asking the right questions and looking for ways to learn more about who he is as a person."
As commander of the school's drill team, Justice said, he helps the cadets learn what they need to know for parades and competitions.
"It was a great responsibility," he said of being the first junior to lead the drill team. "It helped me lead them to state."
Among Justice's hobbies are drawing and spending time with friends, but he focuses most of his effort into training for JROTC competitions and working a part-time job at Papa John's, where he puts in between 25 and 30 hours a week.
Justice, the son of James and Shawny Harris, of Martinez, has a scholarship to Augusta State University through its ROTC program. After graduation from Evans High next year, he plans to join the Army Reserves and go through basic training. After the nine-week program is up, he will enroll at Augusta State and major in criminal justice. He said he plans to join the Army after college and become a military police officer. After 20 years of service to the military, he plans to retire and perhaps join the Columbia County Sheriff's Office.
"I am confident that he will be successful in whatever endeavor he is called upon and that he will do it with enthusiasm," Stokes said. "I would gladly work with this young man on any given day. He is an outstanding leader, as well as a follower.
"Mr. Justice ranks as the best JROTC student I have had in the program at this point," Stokes said.
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