Eagle Scout Project Memorializes Education at Southwestern University
To earn the rank of Eagle Scout, a young man must demonstrate true leadership and virtue. To merit this top honor for himself, East View senior Wilson Benavides took a unique approach and looked to history. His project was inspired by his study of the V-12 Navy College Training Program.
During World War II, the Secretary of the Navy and Secretary of War created this education program to facilitate degree achievements and generate greater numbers of military officers. In 2019, Wilson, who already had a special interest in the military, began to research the program more enthusiastically.
“I realized there was no memorial or anything else to commemorate this program on Southwestern’s campus,” Wilson says. “There is no way for people to remember it.” So he took it upon himself to make a memorial that would honor those who participated in the V-12 Program in Georgetown.
Wilson began his Eagle Scout project journey by creating a design, then found a suitable location for the monument, and met with Edward Burger, the university’s president at the time, for approval. Soon after, due to COVID, the university was shut down and Wilson had to put his project on hold for nearly a year. As soon as was able, he met with the new president, Laura Skandera Trombley, who renewed the approval.
After nearly three years, during which he reached out to many businesses and individuals for supplies, contractors, and labor, the new V-12 memorial statue was erected on Southwestern’s campus. He admits the memorial was the most challenging part of attaining his Eagle Scout rank. “As it should, putting together a memorial like this required communicating with and coordinating between adults with different skill sets and values.”
But, for Wilson, completing the task was a great reward in and of itself. “Remembering the veterans who served is very rewarding, and I’m glad I was able to do it,” he says.
Despite the challenge, which is intentional on the part of the Scouts to ensure commitment, Wilson encourages all young Scouts to commit to the Eagle rank. “You just have to want it,” he adds.
Today, he is continuing to work on the monument and is also focusing on finding a four-year university to attend.
Inside the monument, Wilson interred a collection of stones used to construct it, and a set of patches from Wilson’s troop. He is currently planning a ceremony to formally install the memorial and recognize and celebrate all those who made it possible.