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Dieruff High senior with a passion for service earns full ride to Lehigh through Army

Miara Mitteff
Jenny Roberts
Miara Mitteff earned a full-ride scholarship from the U.S. Army to attend Lehigh University.

ALLENTOWN, Pa. — Miara Mitteff, a senior at Dieruff High School, is a hardworking student leader with a passion for community service.

“No matter if you’re one person or a thousand, you can do something,” said Mitteff, the logistics director for Dieruff’s Air Force Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps.

The 17-year-old is headed to Lehigh University in the fall on a full-ride scholarship to study integrated business and engineering. Mitteff will also join Lehigh's Army ROTC.

“I’m just happy,” she said of the award.

Mitteff, an Allentown School District student, was surprised with the $285,000 scholarship at Dieruff’s military ball in April. She didn’t know she was in the running for the U.S. Army scholarship, which is given to students involved in JROTC.

“I was crying, I was a mess,” Mitteff said, adding she feels lucky to see her hard work pay off.

Her JROTC instructors said the accolade is well-deserved.

“She’s dependable, she’s loyal, she loves school,” said Chuck Yoh, a Dieruff JROTC instructor and Air Force veteran.

“She’s got good grades,” he added. “That’s why she got that awesome scholarship.”

“She’s very dedicated,” James Emory, another Dieruff JROTC instructor and Air Force veteran, said of Mitteff.

Mitteff’s scholarship covers tuition, meals, and room and board. As part of the requirements for the award, Mitteff must maintain at least a 2.5 GPA in college and participate in Lehigh’s Army ROTC.

After graduating, she will be commissioned as a second lieutenant and must stay in the military for at least four years if in active duty. If she’s in the Army Reserve, she must complete eight years.

Mitteff said she was drawn to the Army because of its opportunities for travel and education. She hopes to be a combat engineer or work in military intelligence.

“I do want to give back to my country because I’m proud of where I live, and I’m happy,” Mitteff said.

She’s also excited to gain a new community in college like the one she’s built through Dieruff’s JROTC, which is one of the original 30 military programs started at schools across the country in 1966.

Nathan Estrada, 17, a fellow cadet and friend, said Mitteff is a good leader and problem solver who helps other cadets resolve conflicts when they arise.

“She just makes sure everything is getting done properly. She’s good at handling situations, especially if it's more of a serious matter,” said Estrada, a Dieruff senior.

Miara Mitteff 2
Courtesy of Allentown School District
Miara Mitteff earned a full-ride scholarship from the U.S. Army to attend Lehigh University. She was surprised with the scholarship at Dieruff's military ball. From L to R: JROTC Instructor Chuck Yoh, JROTC Instructor James Emory, Miara Mitteff, Lehigh University Army ROTC Instructor Preston Jackson, Allentown School District Superintendent Carol Birks.

Throughout her four years in JROTC, Mitteff has participated in multiple extracurricular activities, learning how to fly drones and craft miniature rockets, among other skills. Mitteff has also performed in drill competitions. And as the logistics director this year, she's managed the uniforms and equipment for all 50 cadets.

Community service is another large part of the JROTC program. During the 2023-24 school year, cadets completed 1,900 hours of service — that included hosting community events and replacing the American flags on veterans' graves at local cemeteries.

Mitteff’s favorite part of JROTC has been learning how to be a leader, she said.

“I’ve gotten so much more confident, and I’ve gotten to express myself a lot better since being in the program,” she said. “I feel more confident to talk to people and voice myself.

“I recommend JROTC to anybody — anybody who's confused or who wants a little bit more discipline or friendship.”

JROTC is also where Mitteff first became interested in engineering.

“I got to learn about how a plane works, and all the different parts of it,” she said. “I just thought all of that was cool.”

Mitteff also loves math and economics.

“I like the practical part of both of them,” she said. “I like that they both have concrete answers.”

Mitteff’s mother, Leila Vasquez, said her daughter is “a parent’s dream.” She’s responsible and has a serious disposition, but is also open to trying new things.

Vasquez, a 2003 Dieruff graduate who also participated in the JROTC, said she picked up an extra job working as a personal care assistant at a senior living home just to help save up for Mitteff’s college. That was on top of the two jobs she already had as a server and a paraprofessional in the Allentown School District.

“I was in panic mode for this year,” Vasquez said.

But now, she’s relieved knowing Mitteff won the Army scholarship and is on her way to achieving new goals at Lehigh in the fall.

“It was just a blessing,” Vasquez said. “We really, really appreciate it.”