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University of Nevada, Reno ROTC senior cadet ranks in top 20 nationally

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Maybe it was being the youngest in a family of 10 children that made Zack Betts so mentally and physically tough. Or, maybe it was the influence of his father and uncle, U.S. Air Force veterans, or of his brother Derrick, currently serving in the U.S. Army in Kuwait. No matter his source of motivation, the University of Nevada, Reno education major has propelled himself to be ranked among the top ROTC cadets in country – number 13 out of 5,643 senior cadets, to be exact.

The ranking was based on grade-point average, performance in the Leadership Development and Assessment Course that all cadets complete between their junior and senior years, and other factors, such as extracurricular activities. Betts has a 3.96 GPA, ranked second in his regiment in the leadership development course and has been involved in other campus activities, including being a member of the Golden Key International Honour Society and Pi Lambda Theta, a national honor society of educators.

Although Betts said he “wasn’t a stellar high school student,” he graduated with an Honors Diploma from Fernley High School, where he also played football, while holding down a full-time job.

“I’d like to coach and teach one day, after retiring from my military career,” Betts said. “I feel education is somewhere you can actually make a difference, especially in high school. It’s such a pivotal point in life.”

But for now, Betts has his sights set on flying military helicopters. After graduating from the University in May and receiving his commission as second lieutenant, he will be off to Fort Rucker in Alabama to begin the next chapter of his military journey as an Army aviator.

Betts, who was awarded the University’s four-year ROTC presidential scholarship after his first semester at the University, has earned numerous distinctions for his efforts, including the Superior Cadet Award and the George M. Wisham Leadership and Fellowship Award. But, Betts said that his achievements haven’t come easily.

“ROTC has been a huge commitment – a full-time job really. And, they really pushed me to do well academically too.”

Betts is putting his leadership skills to work this year as captain of the University’s Ranger Challenge team. He has been on the team every year while at the University, competing against other teams from the West each November. The Nevada, Reno team has won the competition four out of the last five years, including last year when the team hosted the competition at Stead. This year, the competition will be held in Las Vegas, Nov. 19.

“I plan for us to retain that title this year,” Betts said. “Being captain, and competing in Las Vegas against UNLV, and the others, I really want to win,” he said.

Nevada’s land-grant university founded in 1874, the University of Nevada, Reno has an enrollment of 18,000 students and is ranked in the top tier of the nation’s best universities. Part of the Nevada System of Higher Education, the University has the system’s largest research program and is home to the state’s medical school. With outreach and education programs in all Nevada counties and with one of the nation’s largest study-abroad consortiums, the University extends across the state and around the world. For more information, visit www.unr.edu.

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