Once a commanding officer in NJROTC at McDowell High School (MHS), 20-year-old Kara Newsome said her time in the program definitely equipped her with the skills she needed for the Navy.
“NJROTC prepares you not only for military, but it prepares you for life,” Newsome told The McDowell News by phone. “Boot camp was a breeze because I already knew everything from NJROTC. When we took tests I knew the history and NJROTC prepared me for that.”
Top of her class at Navy boot camp, Newsome said she owes much of her motivation to the teachers at MHS for guiding her while juggling a demanding schedule.
“Chief McClure and Captain Ross are amazing,” said Newsome. “I was with Captain every day for four years. My senior year he helped me with everything. Chief talked to me and motivated. They are definitely two inspirations in my life, along with Mrs. Morris and my mom.”
Capt. Steven Ross oversees NJROTC cadets at MHS, along with Chief Jeff McClure. Ross said Newsome was a focused and dedicated cadet, and had over 100 hours of community service each year.
“She was a critical member of the drill team - on all the individual teams and was the commander of the color guard and unarmed exhibition teams,” said Ross. “She was a member, and the Unit's best shot, of the air rifle team her first three years. She achieved the highest score among female cadets on the annual physical fitness test her junior and senior year.”
Now, Newsome is a Master at Arms in the Navy, stationed in Norfolk, Virginia, with about 4,000 others on their ship. She is one of a few females serving as a Master at Arms.
“We make sure the base is kept safe and the ship is safe,” said Newsome. “If anything happens, we are pretty much the front lines in the Navy.”
Newsome is pursuing her bachelor’s degree in psychology while working to earn her spot as an officer in the Navy. She also plans to study criminal justice and become a police officer.
“The Navy offers me so many opportunities. I get paid a lot more than a lot of people do, I’m in college and I get to carry a gun,” Newsome said. “I have made a lot of lifetime friends but I do miss home.”
And when she’s not working, Newsome works out, plays softball, hangs out with friends and plays guitar.
“I play guitar and sing for the crew, about 1,000 people,” said Newsome. “I used to participate in talent shows in high school, and I still do those in the Navy. I actually won second place and $300 recently.”
Newsome plans to be home for the holidays, but has learned she will deploy sometime in the coming year. She is the daughter of Carla and Gregory Newsome, of Marion. Carla said being proud of her daughter is an understatement.
“She’s a wonderful sister, friend, leader and person,” said Carla. “I’m thankful for MHS, the encouragement of her instructors, peers, parents and our family. I’m excited about Kara’s future with our great country’s military, and the difference she will make in others’ lives.”