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BRIGHT FUTURES — Beauty, brains, boots: Memorial senior weighs options from cosmetology to military

Mariana Quintanar is climbing the ranks.

A commanding officer in the NJROTC — Navy Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps — program, a commander for the female color guard, a cosmetology student and a part-time worker at Cajun’s Seafood and Wings are just a few of the things that Quintanar balances on a daily basis.

Quintanar has always wanted to build her own future and that mindset started when she joined the NJROTC program in ninth grade.

“I heard about the NJROTC program from my friend, but in ninth grade I was really undecided,” she said. “I wasn’t my best behavioral wise, so I wanted to be more disciplined and calm down a little bit. It’s helped me a lot. I’ve gotten more responsible, disciplined and it got me to open up. It’s benefitted me in a lot of ways.”

Mariana Quintanar is a senior at Memorial High School’s Career and Technical Education campus where she specializes in cosmetology classes, as well as being a commanding officer in NJROTC. She practices washing and shampooing techniques in the beauty lab on Monday. (Cassandra Jenkins/The News)

The NJROTC program includes practice in physical appearance, physical training, exercising and marching.

“We do push-ups, sit-ups and jumping jacks,”Quintanar said. “We also run a mile every day. Right now, we are getting everyone situated to start the year off. We also work in discipline. If there is anybody that is trying to go to the military, this class helps you. It gives you a pre-start so you don’t have to enter as a newbie.”

Quintanar started as a cadet and climbed her way to commanding officer through several hours and days of hard work. She is now in charge of more than 100 cadets.

“I did a lot,” she said. “I joined NJROTC my freshman year. I’ve been on several teams. We have unarmed, we have armed, and we have the color guard, the PT teams, and the academic team. The more involved you are, the better chance you have to be a class leader. It’s not just being in class, you have to do more.

“It took me four years to get here. I had to work my way up to being the commander and I lead the color guard. It’s going to so many hours of practices. We’d be here from Monday to Thursday after school. I had to do tests. I had to be more. I had to push harder to show them that I was ready to be in this position.”

Along with physical training and NJROTC,Quintanar also participates in cosmetology classes on campus.

“I’ve been in the cosmetology program since 10th grade,” she said. “I wanted to have something else in progress. I want options. I will have my cosmetology license and the NJROTC program, plus all my honor classes by the time I get to college. I’m doing a lot of stuff so I can get the most benefits out of everything during my senior year.

Quintanar is also in AP classes, an officer in the National Honor Society and a member of the Technical Honor Society for the Career and Technical Education campus at Memorial.

Mariana Quintanar is a senior at Memorial High School’s Career and Technical Education campus where she specializes in cosmetology classes, as well as being a commanding officer in NJROTC. She practices braiding techniques in the beauty lab on Monday. (Cassandra Jenkins/The News)

“I’m trying to boost my way up to the top 10,” she said. “I was there before, but they combined our ranks and it moved me down further. I’m trying to get up there before I graduate.”

Quintanar said her senior year is all about deciding what she wants to do with her life and creating options.

“After I graduate I do want to go to college and have it paid off,” she said. “Within the years, if God lets me, I may join the military. I’m not so sure yet. I want to major in the medical field. I want to be able to build by own things and have my own car and house in my name.”

With the very little down time that she has,Quintanar said she likes to listen to music, play sports and be with her family.

To learn more about the programs at Memorial High School Career and Technical Education center visit https://cate.paisd.org/