When Kynan Reynolds graduated from Shakopee High School in 2019, he already had an impressive resume. It included work experience, leadership experience, being an Eagle Scout, doing physical training with local Marines since he was 15 years old, and being one of five Minnesotans that year to receive the prestigious National Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps Scholarship.

I remember hearing that a Shakopee student had earned the highly selective scholarship, but I didn’t know who he was. Then, a couple weeks ago, I was shopping at Bill’s Toggery where Reynolds works when he’s home, and I learned he was the recipient. We chatted for a bit, I’m impressed with his story, and I wanted to share it.

“I got to know the Marine recruiters locally, and they knew I was interested in the scholarship,” Reynolds said. “The Marine Officer Selection Officer, the OSO, who’s in charge of finding the next officers for the Marine Corps, came to our school. I talked to him about it and filled out the application.”

The several month process involved a physical fitness test with pull-ups, crunches, and a three-mile run. It also included officer interviews discussing academics, extracurricular activities, overcoming difficulties, leadership, conflict resolution, and morals.

The six-figure scholarship is paying for Reynolds’ college tuition at Iowa State University where he’s majoring in marketing with a focus on personalized selling and pursuing minors in military studies and supply chain management. The scholarship also pays for some living expenses and books.

At college, he’s in the Naval ROTC where his unit trains at 6 a.m. every Tuesday and Thursday. The workouts have a heavy focus on cardio training and agility.

Before he finished high school, Reynolds had served as an elected official for the American Legion Boys State, a youth government program where he was a mayor and a state representative, and was one of about 300 students selected as part of a Marine Summer Leadership and Character Development Academy to live and train in Quantico, Virginia, for a week. In addition to being home to the FBI Academy and a Marine Corps base, Quantico has a family connection.

“I was in the same barracks my father was in before he flew out to Iraq,” Reynolds said. Both of his parents served in the Marines for more than 20 years. His dad fought in the Second Battle of Fallujah. His mother has worked in the Pentagon and is currently in the Marine Corps Reserve.

“When I was out there and got to be around Marines for a week, I realized this is definitely something I want to do,” he said. “I got to know a lot of people in my Bravo Company 3rd Platoon. Many of them are now Midshipmen at the Naval Academy or at West Point, and some are enlisted, too.”

Reynolds has completed Naval Student Indoctrination, including a boot camp-type training for three weeks. He’s also taken Naval classes studying military history, fundamentals of Naval warfare, and the movement of soldiers during battles. Next summer, he’s planning to either go to an NSI Midshipmen training program in Great Lakes, Illinois, or be on an amphibious ship with an attachment of Marines in a coastal state.

“I’m not 100% sure what I want to do in the Marines,” he said. “I’ve thought about the infantry, which is something I’d like to be directly involved in. It all comes down to my strengths and where the Marines can best utilize me.”

For now, he’s drawn to the culture of the Marines and hopes to continue building and leveraging his leadership skills.

“There’s definitely a cultural aspect to the Marines. Anyone in the armed forces services can attest to that,” Reynolds noted. “Hopefully I’ll get the chance to lead Marines. Then you’re working to ensure you’re constantly improving yourself so you’re not letting others down.”

When Reynolds is back in Shakopee, he’s gaining experience at Bill’s Toggery. It’s a job he’s had since March 2017.

“I love working at Bill’s. I’ve learned so much about communication and selling skills,” he said. “Bill is an incredible boss. The job is more than clocking in and going to work. He’s taken me to buying shows and is more than willing to teach me not only the responsibilities of my job and how to do it well, but also the behind-the-scenes of how to run a business. That’s normally not what people get the opportunity to do as an entry-level employee.”

For anyone interested in the scholarship Reynolds earned, finding information is simple. “Go to the local Marine recruiting office,” he said. “They are willing to help any way they can.”

Brett Martin is a community columnist who’s been a Shakopee resident for over 15 years.