Following family’s footsteps

By Erika Pedroza | Published Wednesday, July 31, 2013

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For Trent Pettigrew – whose family has served in the country’s armed forces for generations – enlisting in the military has always been a part of the plan.

Trent Pettigrew

“Most of the men in my family have served in the military, so I’d known for a while that I wanted to, too,” the 2013 Decatur High School graduate said. My great-grandfather and his three brothers were all in the Army during World War II … My grandfather and his brother were in the Army during the Cold War and served in Germany … And my dad was in the Army, too … With me wanting to serve, the past four generations from my father’s side will have all served in the military.”

Largely in part to the commitment to uphold that family tradition, the 18-year-old earlier this month was awarded the Texas Armed Services Scholarship by State Rep. Phil King’s office.

Since the TASS’s inception in 2009, state representatives and senators each have the opportunity to annually assist one student committed to education and service by awarding a $40,000 scholarship. The amount is to be divided among four years at any Texas university with an active ROTC program.

Trenton plans to study marine biology at Texas A&M University at Galveston before accepting a commission with the United States Navy.

“Those in my family who have been in the Navy have really enjoyed it,” he said. “I had a third-cousin who spent 28 years in the Navy and made it to E9. He was the one that told my dad how much he loved the Navy, which helped influence my decision.”

Interested in joining the Corps of Cadet during his college years, Trent and his father, Ron Pettigrew, visited Texas A&M at College Station at the end of Trent’s junior year last year. That visit greatly influenced Trent’s plans for the future.

During one informational, they learned about the opportunities available at the school’s extension in Galveston – opportunities like the Maritime Academy and the more than 10 marine-related majors that better suited Trent’s interests.

“One of the reasons I chose A&M is because of how militarily-focused they are,” said Trent. “A&M at Galveston has that with the Maritime Academy. Plus with me wanting to study marine biology and go to the Navy, it offers a lot of opportunities for that, too.”

His father added that the Galveston campus is more than just a branch of A&M.

“It’s simply another location of the campus at College Station,” he said. “Students who go to A&M Galveston still get an Aggie ring, get to march with the Corps. and participate in Midnight Yell.”

In another session, the two learned about the financial aid awards available for students interested in going into the service.

“There are about 20 that they go over extensively,” Ron said. “[The TASS] was one of them, and it was one of the top three highest amounts offered. Most of the others were $3,000 to $5,000.”

Because the scholarship is awarded through elected officials, the Pettigrews immediately got in contact with Rep. King’s office.

“He reached out to our office about the scholarship very far in advance, and we have been communicating with his family about the scholarship throughout his senior year of high school,” said Ashley Westenhover, legislative director for Rep. King.

In May, Trent submitted an application packet, which included a resume, SAT/ACT scores and letters of recommendation.

Applicants also have to graduate in the top third of their class with a grade-point average of 3.0 or higher and a minimum SAT score of 1590 or ACT score of 23.

To receive the scholarship, a student must be appointed by a state representative, senator or the governor or lieutenant governor; enroll in an eligible Texas institution with an eligible ROTC program; meet physical fitness requirements; and commit in writing to remain in ROTC for four years, graduate within five years and enter Guard service or accept a commission with the armed services within six months of graduation from college. Scholarships will be converted to loans for recipients who are unable to fulfill the terms of the written agreement.

Earlier this month, Trenton became the first Wise County constituent to receive the award.

Although there are typically between five and 10 applications, Trent was the the only one this year.

“Now more than half of his tuition each year is paid for him,” Ron said.

“And it’s a pretty easy process,” Trent added.

For more information on the scholarship, visit

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