My name is Michael Lee and I was born and raised in Utah’s Salt Lake Valley. I am a junior enrolled at Skyline High School and Taylorsville High School in Utah. I take my core classes and run track at Skyline.  Every other day, I travel to Taylorsville where I am a cadet Captain in command of Company C in the Taylorsville High School Warrior Battalion. Like many other cadets, I joined the Junior Reserved Officer Training Corps (JROTC) because I had aspirations to join the armed forces.  For me, it was the Air Force and flying planes.  However, about a year and a half ago, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease known as Type 1 diabetes which will prevent me from joining the armed services. Having become passionate about the JROTC, I decided to remain in the program despite not being able to make it a career. My goal was to develop myself as a leader and continue making friends. 


The JROTC teaches leadership skills, and holds its cadets to a higher standard of how we conduct ourselves. The Army values have impacted me by showing how living by them can benefit relationships.  The Army values that I really take to heart are: Loyalty, Duty and Personal Courage. Loyalty helped me to stand by my friends when they were getting bullied at school. Duty helps me take charge of my company and encourages me to strive for greater leadership responsibilities next year. Personal Courage helps me deal with my diabetes. I continue to maintain my health, give myself shots and prick my fingers despite how different it makes me feel around my friends.


Participating in the JROTC 5K World Record Run, for me, represented the unifying of the JROTC as a unit throughout the world.  The run demonstrated the commitment that the JROTC family has toward the program and towards each other. It would have been amazing to be in the Guinness World Record Book, but this 5K stands for more than just a world record.  Being a part of something bigger than ourselves proves that every person counts and that together we can work towards achieving any goals we set.


JROTC values and my religion helped me cope with my diabetes diagnosis. Although I can’t pursue a military career, that doesn’t mean I can’t apply what I learn now later on in life. I plan to go on a mission trip out of the country before I head off to college; the JROTC inspired me to embark on this trip. My plan for the future is to run track in college which will be helped by all the Physical Testing I go through in the JROTC. The discipline I will have learned in JROTC will also help me as I work towards earning a graduate degree in accounting.