Dedication pays off: a new Commanding Officer Makayla Groves


Estefany Perdomo-Montoya

Newly named Commanding Officer Makayla Groves performs her duties during the weekly fourth block inspection. Standing tall, she inspects her unit after a long day ensuring that there is still shine in their shoes and crisp folds in their uniforms. These necessary uniform traits earn points for the program at the spring evaluation, and the new CO cannot let anything slide this early in the year.

Estefany Perdomo-Montoya, Staff

The Commanding Officer (CO) or the leader of the unit is the highest rank a cadet may reach in Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC). The position requires a qualified individual who can lead the unit. The duties of a CO fall under the maintenance of the unit. Maintenance includes ensuring the unit functions properly and stays organized. The 180 cadets this year makes the task difficult. Planning the unit’s meets requires proper organization and communication from the unit. The meets for JROTC allow units to compete to determine their regional, state, and national rank. To reach nationals, the unit will need a proper leader. NC’s First Sergeant Dickerson and Commander Reave saw Makayla Groves as the best candidate.

 Through Groves’ four years in JROTC, she always viewed CO as the final goal. Groves recognizes the influence that COs may place on cadets in the unit, as she remembers CO Samantha Martinez from her sophomore year as a great role model.  Groves admired her hard work and style of leadership. In the following year, she worked to prove herself as a valuable candidate for CO. 

Traditionally leadership positions in JROTC appear as male-only, meaning NC did not conform to typical stereotypes associated with JROTC. Groves’ gender presented no limits to her position as CO. She works to establish her authority and gain the respect she deserves. 

“Being a female commanding officer I believe is no different than being a male [commanding officer]. There are a few struggles when it comes to authority and people respecting you but it is not a huge issue,” Groves said. 

Groves hopes that despite everything she can overcome her fears and step up as a role model for females and her unit.  To her, the option of quitting will never cross her mind. 

“The moment you quit is the moment everyone that ever looked up to you loses hope,” said Groves. 

Her experience at The Naval Junior ROTC Leadership Academy during the summers of sophomore and junior year enriched her skills as Cadet and soon to be CO. Groves swapped her time on the softball team for a full-time cadet in JROTC. Groves values communication and hopes to make communication an important part of the program during her time as CO. The unit hopes to excel from the 17th overall.  

 “Communication is key to good staff, never be afraid to ask others for advice or their input on things. The leaders that don’t ask for ideas are the ones that believe they can do everything on their own,” said Groves. 

The unit became a family away from home for Groves. Her fellow cadets gained from life experiences together.  They all grew off one another as individuals learning how to respect and care for one another; her unit became everything for her. 

“I am not quite sure where I would be in life without Rotc and the family I have made within. ROTC has taught me discipline, honesty, and so many other things in life and most of all leadership,” said Groves. 

Due to the people surrounding her, Groves grew to become a better person. Her next step in life will lead her to the study of Criminal Justice in college and the end goal of a homicide detective.  

“The two most important people I can thank for all of it is Commander Reaves and First Sergeant Dickerson personally. They have been there through it all and have developed me to be who I am today. Without their support and guidance, I would ultimately not be the leader or person I am today,” said Groves.