Texas A&M University-Central Texas graduation ceremony

From left, Destinee Johnson, Tuke Shoemaker and Dante Rose pose for photos at the Texas A&M University-Central Texas graduation ceremony Saturday night in Belton.

Courtesy photo

Dante Rose, 21, and Destinee Johnson, 22, both remember where they were the moment they first discovered that they had been selected as the inaugural recipients of the Wolf Warrior Scholarship created and funded by the late retired Gen. Robert M. “Bob” and Tuke Shoemaker.

“It was unbelievable,” said Johnson. “I was standing in my closet, looking for something to wear to the senior ceremony when the phone rang.”

The person making the call that day was Merium Hodge-Cummings, a Shoemaker High School counselor assigned to work with students headed to college.

Months before, Johnson remembers standing in the counselor’s office, listening to the details about the scholarship designed to sponsor two Shoemaker High School students to Central Texas College and then Texas A&M University-Central Texas.

“I had no clue about the scholarship,” she said. “I was in the corner of the counselor’s classroom, and she was explaining it to us. But I never thought it was something I could compete for until she took me aside and told me to apply.”

Johnson and Rose were among more than 350 to graduate from A&M-Central Texas at the Bell County Expo Center in Belton Saturday night.

The credit their high school namesake and local hero who dedicated his life in service to others in the community and who believed that an education could serve to secure their futures — and the region’s.

“Gen. Shoemaker was very proud of these students,” said Leslie Francis, the Shoemaker Family personal assistant. He was proud of their determination and their outgoing nature and their love for learning.”

Both scholarship recipients said their futures will always include a quiet reminder to live life in a way that would honor Gen. Shoemaker.

“He always let us give him hugs,” said Johnson. “He called us his grandkids, and he wanted to see all of us have every chance to succeed.”

Rose knows this from first-hand experience, remembering all of the times that he had met “General Bob,” adding that it wasn’t at all uncommon that the retired general would ask about each student by name.

“There was nothing that wasn’t genuine about him,” he said. “He was such a caring man. If we needed help of any kind, he was there for us. Being one of the first to receive his scholarship motivated me to work harder than I thought I could because I wanted to honor him,” he said.

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