MARYSVILLE – A cheerleader-wrestler-prom queen and a first-time college student in her family each have won $180,000 scholarships.
Allie Bigger and Daniela Castro both attend Marysville Getchell High School but are also part of the Navy Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps at Marysville-Pilchuck.
Bigger will be attending Xavier and nearby Tulane in New Orleans, while Castro will be going to Seattle Pacific University.
“They are huge,” Kathy Wilde of the M-P NJROTC said of the scholarship amounts. She added it’s the first time in the program’s 22-year history for that to happen.
Bigger’s commitment is to become a Navy officer and be in active service for at least four years, along with two years in the reserves.
Castro plans to major in engineering.
Bigger, who was in NJROTC for all four high school years, found out about the scholarship three years ago. She applied but “was rejected over and over again,” so as a backup she recently joined the Marines. Once she got the scholarship, she was able to change that commitment.
Castro said her parents didn’t make it past middle school. But she started to believe she could go to college when she got into Advancement Via Individual Determination. She said when she was a sophomore AVID took a field trip to SPU. She loved it, calling it “homey and like family. I want to go here,” she wrote in her senior reflection.
Bigger applied to a handful of colleges, with her top choice the University of Idaho. “But I’m not complaining,” she said, smiling about where she ended up.
Her dad was in the Marines, so she always had considered a military career. She said she wants to go into aviation and fly helicopters.
Castro then thanked Bigger. “I joined ROTC because of Allie,” she recalled.
Both said they earned their scholarships because of an accumulation of what they had done throughout high school, including essays, recommendations, grade point averages, Scholastic Aptitude Test scores, etc. Both of their grade points are about 3.5.
Of Castro, who was in NJROTC for 1 1/2 years, Wilde said, “She works very hard and does what’s asked” of her, adding SPU was impressed that she was taught, “how to think, not what to think.”
In describing Bigger, Wilde called her, “passionate and competitive.” Bigger led the NJROTC physical strength team to its first trip to state, along with another girl and three boys. She had a best of a time of 7 minutes, 10 seconds in the mile, 55 “cadence” push-ups and 100 sit-ups in two minutes.
In turning out for wrestling in her senior year, she said she was looking for a demanding physical challenge. Bigger also was on the military drill team. But she had to give up a different type of drill team to do it. When she was younger, she was on the Sonic Elite All Stars that won a national championship.
As to why she gave that up, she said, “I got older, and I’m not as limber as I used to be.”
Along with AVID, Castro has been part of Spanish Club and the Big Buddy program at Sunnyside Elementary. She also played tennis and was involved in intramurals, along with being active in the Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Everett feeding the homeless.
Bigger, who was a master chief who supported 85 cadets in helping them meet academic goals, said NJROTC taught her so much. “It teaches you to be a better citizen,” she said, even if you don’t go the military route. “It’s beneficial for any field you go into.”