Jonathan Halpin, a senior at Tivy High School and within weeks of graduating, still has some big decisions to make about his future. But one of the biggest preparations has been solved for him, with last week’s presentation to him of a full-ride college scholarship.
Halpin is in his fourth year of ROTC at Tivy, after joining as a freshman; and this year is Cadet Lt. Colonel, the Corps Commander.
“I’ve wanted to be Corps Commander since I was a freshman. I thought, ‘It looks like fun and I could influence other people’,” Halpin said. “I mainly do mentoring and planning for the next year.”
Tivy’s Air Force ROTC unit has about 100 student members.
But that isn’t all that fills Halpin’s schedule at Tivy.
He’s a trumpet player in the Tivy Antler Band, and has served this year as drum major.
“I have fun practicing my instrument, since I can play jazz or concert music, the louder the better,” he said. “And I read; and write poetry. And I’ve been working at MacDonald’s about 18 months.”
He said he’d be playing in a gig on Easter weekend.
He said his younger brother Nathan, a Tivy freshman, also is in the band and plays percussion (drums).
Halpin said he and his brother also are both members of the Civil Air Patrol.
Halpin said he applied for this U.S. Navy four-year scholarship months ago, an award he could use to pay for attending Texas A&M University at College Station, where he already has been accepted; and plans to be a Navy member of the A&M Corps of Cadets.
“I was accepted there last November or December in the College of Engineering,” he said.
“I have had lots of family in the Navy and heard a lot of good stories about cool jobs,” Halpin said.
He said the scholarship he was awarded last week will pay up to $180,000; and cover all his tuition, books, fees and various expenses, plus give him a monthly stipend.
The only two things he must pay for himself will be housing and food, he said.
“But Corps housing is pretty simple and cheap compared to other dorms there,” he said.
Halpin said he applied to TAMU early and got accepted fairly quickly.
What he’s still “bouncing between,” he said, is choosing between nuclear engineering or aerospace as a major.
“But I have the first year of pretty general courses, to decide,” Halpin said. “I think nuclear power is pretty cool; and I like rockets and spacecraft.”
As a preparation for this decision, he said Tivy ROTC has helped him think about aerospace and how planes work.
“And now I’m thinking I want to be a pilot,” he said, “Mrs. Dunagan has done a good job in physics class, getting me interested. I sometimes think I would like to be an astronaut.”
Halpin said he was born in Victoria and attended schools there through seventh grade. He moved to Kerrville with his family when he was entering eighth grade.
He said his family has been the biggest influence on his life and decisions, including one uncle who served in and retired from the U.S. Navy, and told Jonathan stories over the years about his life and work in that military branch.
“He’s the one that made me think about being a surface warfare officer, working with missiles and other weapons,” Halpin said. “And serving in the Navy would set me up for like work after serving in the military.”
He said his deceased grandfather and grandmother also were in the Navy.
But just to cover his possibilities, Halpin also applied for the Air Force’s similar full-ride scholarship. He hopes to hear a decision on that application soon this spring.
“Both of those branches of service offer so many things.”
The rest of the spring semester at Tivy already has a full calendar.
“I have days for school work and ‘me’ days,” he said.
Halpin said he and a date will be attending the Prom in mid-April, planned this year at the Museum of Western Art, with a Gatsby theme.
And that will be followed by the Tivy Band Banquet in mid-May.
But there’s no Military Ball this year, he said.
Halpin’s summer, after Tivy’s May 28 graduation, is also already booked practically full.
He said he has plans to attend a two-month summer flight school, to get his private pilot’s license.
That will be May 30-July 25 in Estherville, Iowa.
He said that will include ground school, then working on planes and flying.
“It’s a great school, but a lot of work,” he said, “and a cool flight suit, too. I will have a private pilot’s license if I put in all the work.”
“If I have a pilot’s license, I can go see Drum Corps International. That would be so loud and great. They have a championship in August. And I think Pink Floyd will be playing in Texas. I might be going to that, too.”
And he has an extra “camp” in August on his calendar that is required as part of his entry into Texas A&M for the fall semester.