Navy yanks teen's ROTC scholarship

Monday, August 20, 2007

FARMINGTON, Mo. -- An eastern Missouri teen thought her college tuition was taken care of when the Navy presented her with a mock check for $180,000, but the Navy has now rescinded the scholarship, saying she can't be an ROTC student because of an old back injury.

Danielle Littrell, 18, turned down scholarships from several schools to enlist with the Navy's ROTC program.

The Navy presented Littrell with a check for $180,000 in November, but the military later pulled the funds, citing a back injury that Littrell suffered in a 2005 basketball game. The herniated disc didn't keep the 6-foot Littrell from playing basketball at Farmington High School last year. She also earned a black belt in karate.

Littrell will move into her dorm at Loyola University in Chicago on Tuesday, but without the scholarship funds.

"I love the school, I just don't know if I'll be able to continue there," she told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch for Sunday's edition.

Her mother, Lori Littrell, said the family might have to find something more economical. Loyola costs about $27,000 a year.

The ROTC program allows a student to pick a college, and Littrell hoped to go on to a top medical school after graduating from Loyola.

The program offered four years of free college in exchange for four years of service as an officer. If she qualified for medical school, the Navy would pay for that, too, and she would serve an additional two years.

Lori Littrell said her daughter never hid the condition and the Navy should have acted sooner.

Lt. Cmdr. Melissa Schuermann, with the Great Lakes Naval Training Center near Chicago, declined to talk about Littrell's case. She said the Navy warns students in writing that scholarships are contingent on medical evaluations.

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