The best stories being published on the SNO Sites network

Best of SNO

The best stories being published on the SNO Sites network

Best of SNO

The best stories being published on the SNO Sites network

Best of SNO

Best of SNO Stats
Publication Tips
We'll be the first to admit that getting your story published on Best of SNO is hard. We receive over 100 submissions per day, and only about 15 percent are selected for publication.

There are multiple factors that come into play when deciding if a story is Best of SNO-worthy. From engaging writing and unique angles to well thought out multimedia elements, more considerations are made than it might look.

If you're having a hard time achieving that Best of SNO distinction, check out our past newsletters to get a better idea of the type of content we're looking for.
March 21, 2024
January 26, 2024
November 16, 2023
March 1, 2023
January 10, 2023
November 1, 2022

Soaring toward her dreams

JROTC junior takes flight on her journey to the Air Force
Amber Luna
In this picture, Luna is seen wearing her red-white cord, ribbons, and badges. The red-white cord symbolizes her place on staff, and her ribbons are earned through competitions.

March. Clap.

Click. Clack.

The movements in this unarmed drill are so structured and yet fluid as she led the troop to victory.

Ever since middle school, junior Amber Luna was drawn to the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) after joining the Leadership Development Center for Squadron Command (LDC), a Junior-JROTC class, at Clear Lake Intermediate School.

Story continues below advertisement

“Being in that class in sixth and seventh grade, I was drawn to the Air Force because it has been known to be more women-friendly because they tend to not be as intense as Marine Corps or the other branches, so I stuck with it ever since,” Luna said.

LDC ended after seventh grade, and Luna pushed her Air Force dream to the back of her mind until the first semester of sophomore year when Luna saw her cousin join the U.S. Marine Corps. With this, Luna’s desire to join was rekindled. Luna joined the JROTC program in the second semester of her sophomore year.

“​I was in a state of trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life, and I wanted to take the extra steps to prepare myself for the future,” Luna said. “[I am] a person who thrives off of structure, and JROTC has that structure I need.”

Before JROTC, Luna played softball. She decided to change out of softball once she realized that being in JROTC is where “[she] enjoyed being more.”

“My parents, brother, aunts and uncles all play ball, so I knew that just because I wouldn’t be playing anymore, I would still be surrounded by [the sport] so I wouldn’t lose it,” Luna said.

Realizing the college life of “sitting at a desk all day” was not in [her] best interest, Luna began to seriously think about what she truly wanted to pursue in the future.

Luna started researching about the Air Force and the requirements she needed to join. With her family’s support, she emailed the JROTC instructors,  First Sergeant and Chief Warrant Officer Four, telling them that she plans on joining the Air Force and was wondering and if they could help her.

Seven-year senior army instructor, Chief Warrant Officer Four and JROTC teacher Jennifer Collins was quick to note Luna as a “very diligent” student.

“When Amber joined JROTC, [I knew] she would be successful in the program and in anything she wanted to do,” Collins said. “Although Amber was quiet and a bit reserved, she possessed a level of respect and a drive that makes her a great Cadet with a bright future.”

Within two years, Luna has proved her commitment to the program to Collins. Luna holds leadership positions such as the Battalion Personnel Officer and a spot on the Unarmed Drill Team.

“She truly performs as a veteran in the program,” Collins said. “As a member of the Unarmed Drill Team, [Luna] commands the Regulation Phase, [which] proves how her commitment to the program and her teams are evident.”

Luna joined for the passion, but stayed for the people.

“There are many things that I love about JROTC: the people, the skills we learn, the opportunities we are given,” Luna said. “The instructors do an amazing job of building lasting bonds with the cadets and showing that they are there to help you be the most successful person you can be. I have met some of my best friends being in this program whilst being given amazing opportunities for my future.”

Two of Luna’s best friends, senior Brittney Robles and junior Autry Oran, work alongside her, commanding the JROTC Unarmed Drill Team.

Luna, pictured left, stands alongside Robles, pictured right, in uniform. Luna performs drills at football games while Robles dances for the school dance team. (Amber Luna)

Robles has been a part of the JROTC since her junior year. She met Luna last year at the military ball.

“I’m the Battalion Executive Officer, which just means I’m second in command, so basically like a vice president or an assistant principal,” Luna said. “Technically speaking, I’m her boss. But of course I don’t act like one; she’s my best friend.”

Robles sees Luna as her little sister, with virtually the same interests in life, in everything.

“I think she’s a really hard working person, and she’s a lot like me, in that she’s an overachiever,” Robles said. “Which is also why I think we bond a lot because we do everything as if it’s a team effort in JROTC. If there is a task, we will be the first ones on it.”

Through JROTC, Luna was not only able to learn military skills, but also impactful life lessons.

“JROTC is mainly about learning how to have self discipline, whilst being among some of the best friends you can make,” Luna said. “The Bellaire High School JROTC program has a lot of opportunities to gain experience [in the military].”

To Luna, the JROTC is “an amazing program for a variety of people; it teaches you life skills and grants you countless opportunities and lifetime bonds are built.”

With her eye on Texas A&M University, Luna is interested in the Corp of Cadets program. She plans to commission as an officer in the Air Force, and hopefully become a Public Affairs Officer (PAO) for the Air Force.

This story was originally published on Three Penny Press on March 8, 2024.