Two Riverhead high school students have won full four-year scholarships to the college of their choice from the U.S. Navy. It’s the first time two Riverhead students have gotten such a scholarship in the same year since 2008.
The recipients, Amanda Gallo, 17, and Brian Weinhardt, 17, who are both in the school’s NJROTC program, will be commissioned ensigns and serve five years in the Navy after graduating college. The scholarships cover college expenses, include a monthly stipend for living expenses and can be used at any college with an NROTC program.
“It still hasn’t sunk in. I’m slowly realizing the reality of it. I don’t have to pay for college,” said Gallo, of Calverton. “My future is secure. ... My friends are talking about going to Suffolk Community for the first two years to save money.”
Gallo was one of six students hand-picked picked for the scholarship by the head of the Naval district that administers ROTC programs on Long Island, New York City, northern New Jersey and Westchester.
Gallo said she is applying to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and wants to go into aeronautical engineering when her military service ends. An honors student, she is goalie on the school’s varsity soccer team and editor of the school newspaper.
Weinhardt credits winning the scholarship to his perseverance becoming an Eagle Scout and his involvement with school activities. He said plans to earn a degree in aerospace engineering in college, then attend law school. He said he is applying to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and George Washington University.
He is operations officer for his NJROTC unit, a member of the National Honor Society and the French Foreign Language Honor Society and top golfer on the school’s varsity golf team.
Weinhardt was competing with about 5,000 students in the region for his scholarship.
“It’s a life-changing experience,” he said.