CLASS OF 2013 PROFILES

Swansea High’s Piersanti: ‘Confidence was instilled in me’

The State staffMay 19, 2013 

Swansea High's Emillee Piersanti

PROVIDED PHOTOGRAPH

  • About this series

    Through May 28, The State will run a series of Q&As with some Midlands high school seniors representing a range of interests — from athletics to academics to service — reflecting on the past four years and looking ahead.

    Beginning May 29, watch for snapshots and photo galleries from public high school graduation ceremonies at thestate.com/ class-of-2013. View photos from Columbia area college graduation ceremonies, too.

Emillee Piersanti

School: Swansea High

Graduation date: June 6

We understand you have a passion for JROTC. Tell us about that.

Piersanti: As a freshman in high school in a new town, I was shy and I didn’t know any other way to be — so I joined JROTC hoping to change that. Being a team player was a must in that class, so being the introverted person that I was, it was hard for me. Which is why it’s hard to believe that I went from that, to top of the Battalion within three years. JROTC is my passion because it is the main reason for my 180 degree change.

Tell us about one of your proudest ROTC moments.

Piersanti: My proudest moment in JROTC would have to be between two of the major milestones I have achieved. The first would be winning Honor Cadet at JCLC my freshman year. There were 720 cadets, 40 were chosen for the award. I was one of those 40. The second, and probably most rewarding, was becoming the battalion commander. My senior year has been has been busy and challenging at times. However, I have persevered.

Favorite military movie or character?

Piersanti: My favorite military movie is “Saving Private Ryan.” It is a perfect example of unity. The U.S. Army sent a squad of men out to look for one guy who went MIA in the Battle of Baton. JROTC teaches cadets that the key to success is team work, which is greatly portrayed in this movie.

How much time do you spend polishing your shoes?

Piersanti: I polish my shoes every Wednesday night, because Thursdays are uniform days. Therefore, I must set the example, because I know what my expectations are.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in high school?

Piersanti: The biggest challenge that I faced in high school was a lack of self-confidence. I never saw myself the way others saw me. In my elementary school years, I faced lots of adversity and bullies, which stuck with me through the years. I always thought that no matter what I did it would never be good enough, and I would never look as pretty as all the other girls. Then I got to high school, and I had the desire to change that — to make a fresh start. Through JROTC I was encouraged, confidence was instilled in me, and it was easier to become the bold and outgoing person that I am today.

Tell us about your plans after graduation.

Piersanti: I plan to attend Pensacola Christian College to obtain my bachelor’s in nursing. I will then work in the NICU for two years, and pass the specified exam needed to acquire my certification in the neonatal unit as a RN.

What song sums up your high school years?

Piersanti: One of my favorite female artists is Francesca Battistelli. All throughout high school there was always a struggle of some sort, but I always made it through and that’s what this song describes. There were others that I liked better, but this one really says it all. And yes, I really have lost my keys, lost my phone, and got pulled over for speeding at some point in over the years — “This is the Stuff.”

If you could only keep one object from high school for a box of treasured possessions, what would it be?

Piersanti: My shadow box from JROTC. For all graduating JROTC seniors, Major Williams (the JROTC senior Army instructor), collects all uniform decorations and puts them together in a frame, creating a valuable keepsake from our high school years in JROTC.

What’s the biggest life lesson you learned from a teacher?

Piersanti: Throughout my high school years, I have learned numerous important life lessons. The purpose of JROTC is too commonly mistaken for recruiting future military personnel. However, the mission of JROTC is to “motivate young people to be better citizens.” This answer is more in-depth than you may realize. The cliché, “don’t judge a book by its cover,” is also true with this program. You learn so much more than basic military standards. JROTC instills qualities and teaches life skills necessary to be a successful individual in school and in the professional world — courage, confidence, integrity, patriotism, punctuality, unity, respect, initiative, financial literacy, health awareness, communication skills, public speaking skills, leadership skills, organization skills, and builds the foundation for a successful future.

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