‘Ultimate role model’ named 2023 Air Force Junior ROTC Cadet of the Year

  • Published
  • By Christian P. Hodge, Air Force Junior ROTC Public Affairs

Headquarters Air Force Junior ROTC, in conjunction with the Air & Space Association, has named a high school junior as the 2023 AFJROTC Cadet of the Year and Cadet Leadership Award May 12.   

Cadet Kayley Spitzer, Clover High School AFJROTC SC-951, Clover, SC, earned this honor through an unbelievable cadet ‘resume’ that corroborates what an outstanding young women, leader and U.S. citizen she is.

“This award is for the dedicated, ambitious, and resilient. It doesn’t just mean that I’ve achieved these three things, but that I’m able to inspire others to aspire to reach goals greater than they could dream of,” said Spitzer. “It’s not an award that’s mine to carry, it’s one I’m meant to share. Knowing that I’m trusted with such a task to represent the program is an honor.”

Spitzer was the cadet corps vice wing commander and as a senior she will be the corps commander. The fact she warranted this key position, while also being named – as a junior – the worldwide 2023 AFJROTC Cadet of the Year, further illustrates the potential her mentors see in her.

“Kayley is the ultimate role model for the cadet corps and leads from the front! She's a remarkable student in the classroom while being extremely involved in both Air Force JROTC and Clover High School student government,” said retired Maj. Brian Batson, AFJROTC SC-951’s Senior Aerospace Science Instructor. “She is extremely positive and continually exhibits a can-do attitude. Kayley exudes humility and empathy while demonstrating a high level of professionalism with everything she is a part of. Kayley's commitment to excellence and personal integrity are beyond reproach!”

Spitzer competed against approximately 31,000 eligible cadets from more than 850 units worldwide. This is the first time in history that cadets from the same unit have won the award in consecutive years. Last year, Clover senior Cadet Charlie Bratton won the award. Winners are selected after assessments at the state and regional levels before a final review of all the regional winners by Headquarters AFJROTC and the Air & Space Association.

“While Cadet Spitzer is obviously highly intelligent, I feel it's her determination to be successful that clearly sets her apart,” said Batson. “Kayley has very specific goals and objectives in mind with just about everything she does. I believe that's Kayley's secret weapon!”

Some highlights pulled from her nomination package include: #1 of 555 students at Clover High School; a sterling 5.242 GPA; junior class president and elected as senior class president; #1 pick of 25 selected for the AFJROTC Flight Academy with top test and board scores; StellarXplorer, Color Guard and Cadet Recruiting teams commander; Joint Leadership & Academic Bowl team captain and Raider Team member. She was integral to 114 cadet events and took part in 15 competitions. She logged 48 community service hours and contributed 82 service hours with the Student Council, leading 40 council members.

“The growth I’ve seen in myself these past few years is astounding. I’ve never believed that I’d get this far in my leadership capabilities and as a high achieving role model,” said Spitzer. “It’s all thanks to this program that I’ve been able to take advantage of the opportunities offered, and that’s what I really love about this AFJROTC.”

While Spitzer knows that JROTC might not be for everyone, she encourages her peers out there to give it try. She said that you miss every opportunity you don’t take, and JROTC will offer you more than one.

“Aspire to be something greater than you know, and you’ll find yourself soaring amongst the best of the best,” she said.

“This isn’t simply an award that I myself won; It’s an award that I need to thank everyone in my life for. My Mom and Dad have done more than enough to put me on this great path. They’ve encouraged me with every step I took, even if it was a few backwards at some point,” said Spitzer. “My instructors, Major Batson, Sergeant Ghent, and Sergeant Clemens, have all been a huge inspiration, always encouraging me to seek more. Not to mention my friends and peers who have supported me. I couldn’t have done it without any of these people in my life.”


The mission of AFJROTC is to ‘Develop citizens of character dedicated to serving their nation and community.’ AFJROTC is not an Air Force or Space Force accessions program and cadets are never under any obligation to join the military. AFJROTC is a Title 10 U.S. Code mandated citizenship training program that is designed to educate and train high school cadets in citizenship, promote community service, instill personal responsibility, character and self-discipline. For more information go to the AFJROTC website.