How does a girl state JROTC president get boy cadets to obey her?
Central High School junior Davornne Lindo achieved more four weeks than most folks in a lifetime.
Here’s her exhaustive and exhausting list:
▪ Won the local (Feb. 11), district (Feb. 25), division (March 4) and state (March 11) competitions in the American Legion Oratorical Contest, totaling $6,500 in scholarship money and qualifying for the national final April 22 in Indianapolis.
▪ Gained entry into the U.S. Naval Academy Summer Seminar (Feb. 16), a prestigious one-week camp for prospective midshipmen.
▪ Interviewed with the Alabama Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps board and was selected as state president (Feb. 18).
▪ Finished second in medical spelling during the Health Occupations Students of America state conference (Feb. 23-24) to qualify for the national championships June 21-24 in Orlando.
The success streak came at a mighty welcomed time. It has boosted the spirit of her single mother, who has been out of work since December after her hand “got smashed” in a machine on the job.
“Every time I get to a moment in my life when I feel like keeping my head down, I think of her and lift my head high to keep going,” said Michelle Canaan, who cares for four children in their Phenix City home. “I’ve got to give thanks to God.”
Davornne, 17, also noticed her triumphs helped her mother “take her mind off of all that was going on. My accomplishments really made her proud.”
But those accomplishments haven’t made Davornne a prima donna.
“For someone that young in age, she has tremendous poise,” said Lt. Carlton Jones, the senior instructor for the Navy JROTC chapter at Central, where Davornne is the lieutenant commander and executive officer. “Her interpersonal skills dealing with others are just phenomenal, the respect that she gives to other students as well as her teachers. She just has a way about her, her composure, and I don’t see that too often. She can deal with everything that’s going on around her, and she still manages to organize herself to be able to do those things, and she never gets upset. She keeps the same demeanor.”
Davornne thanked Jones for supporting her.
“Even when I don’t believe in myself,” she said, “he believes for both me and him: ‘You got it, Lindo. You got it.’ He’s always there motivating me.”
Davornne, however, is mostly self-motivated.
“Not many children raised by a single parent motivate themselves like she has,” Canaan said. “She lets nothing stop her.”
Through the whirlwind four weeks, she said, “All these things back to back, all the late-night studying, staying up and trying to prepare for this stuff, I definitely learned I’m stronger than I thought.”
Because she feels too blessed to be stressed.
“There’s pressure, but it’s definitely a blessing,” she said. “The benefits far outweigh the cons.”
Asked what advice she would give to others who push themselves to succeed but don’t enjoy the journey, Davornne said, “Be proud of your achievements. It took a lot to get to where you are, so just take one step at a time and stop trying to look at the big picture. That’s overwhelming.”
Davornne recalled the day Central NJROTC recruiters came to her eighth-grade class at South Girard School three years ago.
“I just remember really falling in love with it,” she said. “I really wanted to do that, just something about it.”
She liked the promise to improve her leadership skills.
“It really helps me to handle those roles,” she said.
Davornne wasn’t aware she is the first female Alabama JROTC president in the five-year history of the position until Jones confirmed that distinction during the Ledger-Enquirer’s interview.
“It makes it a bigger accomplishment than I thought it was before,” she said with a smile.
Asked how she gets boys to obey her commands, Davornne laughed and said, “They respect the rank.” And how does she earn their respect? “By leading by example,” she said. “I can’t be a hypocrite.”
But gender isn’t an issue in Central’s NJROTC unit, Jones said. Most of the 205 cadets are female, he noted.
Davornne admitted the NJROTC uniforms also attracted her to the unit in addition to traveling to the various competitions. She runs the 100-meter hurdles for Central’s track team, finishing in the state’s top eight last spring as a sophomore, and she finished among the state’s top six in the 60-meter hurdles this year as a junior during the indoor season. But it’s her success in JROTC and in the classroom (ranked third among Central’s juniors with a grade-point average over 4.0) that could lead to a congressman or senator appointing her to the U.S Naval Academy, her college choice.
Her career goal is to become a pediatrician. “I just love working with children, helping them be healthy,” she said. “Things are always changing in medicine, always new discoveries breaking through. Maybe I could be the first one to discover the cure for cancer.”
That’s one achievement she didn’t attain during those four wonderful weeks.