If Borja finishes his education at West Point, he will be the third Winchester resident to graduate from the academy in recent years. John Trimble, 23, will graduate May 31, and Chris Blackburn, who is now serving in Iraq, finished his four years in 2006.
"West Point is an outstanding educational institution where our finest young people go to prepare for a career in military service," Chandler said. "This appointment is a tremendous opportunity for Mr. Borja, and I applaud his efforts, his strength and wish him much success."
Borja moved to Winchester in September 2005, after his Mississippi home was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. He decided to enroll in JROTC because it interested him, but wasn't offered at his previous school.
"I really liked the environment (in JROTC) because it was kind of structured," he said. "I needed a little bit of structure at the time. After coming out of that, everything was kind of jumbled around."
He became interested in West Point after attending an "academy day" that presented information about the U.S. military academies. Unsure that he would make the final cut, he also applied to the University of Kentucky and Eastern Kentucky University.
Then he got the good news.
"I was pretty excited, (but) my mom was a little bit more excited," he said. "She doesn't move very fast because she walks with a cane, but she was jumping around that day."
Borja will head out June 30 for cadet basic training at West Point. Those who complete the rigorous four years are commissioned as second lieutenants in the Army, and they earn bachelor's degrees. Chandler said the West Point education is worth more than $250,000.
"Ryan came here under less than perfect circumstances," Chandler said. "Ryan has made it his business to work hard and go about making something of himself."
Lt. Col. Brett Morris, who leads the JROTC at GRC, said having a local student appointed so early into the group's history is significant. The JROTC started at GRC three years ago, two weeks before Borja arrived in Winchester.
"To be one of the ones selected to be in the freshman class is really quite a deal, and very important for not only the school and the program, but it is a representative of what is available to students if they try hard to achieve," Morris said. "Ryan, I think, his real motivation was to serve as a lieutenant once he gets out."
Borja said the working with the JROTC program inspired him to seek the appointment.
"They're wonderful role models and really have been like fathers to me," he said of Morris and instructor Sgt. Robert Welch.
Borja's father and stepfather both served in the military. He hopes to earn an engineering degree from West Point, attend graduate school, and pursue a career in alternative fuel.
Borja is the son of Herman Borja and Mona Arnold.
He is a member of the National Honor Society and attended the Governor's Scholars Program at Bellarmine University. He serves as vice-president of his class and is a member of the Future Business Leaders of America and the Academic Team. Borja also runs on the indoor track team and is an active member of the JROTC Physical Fitness Team.