Pacesetter Spotlight: Nathan McKnight


The Pacesetter process begins with a faculty nomination.  The nominees are narrowed down through a vetting process that creates the top 30.  These nominees then complete a rigorous application and interview process, and then the committee chooses the ten Pacesetters.  In the coming days, The Patriot Pages will spotlight each of the Pacesetters.

Nathan McKnight was a three year Track and Field team member, and he participated in Speech and Debate.  His largest contribution to the schoolthough was through his involvement with NJROTC from  2018-2020.  He has served as Platoon Commander, tasked with leading classes in exercising, lessons and inspections along with working one on one with cadets to ensure they are progressing in JROTC and school. In the past two years he competed on the drill teams that won the area championship and qualified for the Navy Nationals meet. He also competed on the Brain Brawl team that took first out of twenty-seven teams and qualified for the National Championship in San Diego. This March, McKnight tied for second out of 8,045 cadets nationwide on the National Academic Exam. Additionally, he participated in color guards at a home football game and the Pace Christmas parade and led the color guards at the Homecoming and Milton Veterans Day parades.

In four years, Knight has completed approximately 820 hours of community service that have benefitted a variety of groups and brought him closer to his community.

“From the Spring of my freshman year to the Fall of my sophomore year I was a manager for the football team. In the average week I worked approximately 30 hours doing a variety of tasks ranging from providing athletic trainers with the proper supplies, ensuring player safety by repairing helmets and pads and assisting the grounds crew in the setup for Friday night games which are some of the most lucrative school events and a significant part of student life. During my freshman year I also participated in the Florida House of Representatives Page and Messenger Program at the State House in Tallahassee. In the weeklong, 40 program I assisted in the legislative process by delivering mail and passing messages to the House Chamber all while learning about Florida’s government and meeting elected officials. I participated in the program again during my sophomore and junior years and was selected as a messenger leader. In this capacity I was tasked with teaching other messengers how to conduct themselves in the committee rooms, House office buildings and meetings with officials. I thoroughly enjoyed the program as it gave me a better understanding of how the legislative process works and how representatives work together to make change that benefits citizens in all corners of the state,” said McKnight.

With ROTC, McKnight has taken part in many great projects that helped great causes in our area. He has cleaned up highways, prepared care packages at the food bank, and  assisted with a multitude of other projects.

McKnight added, “My community involvement will not end with my graduation from Pace; one of the reasons that I have chosen to attend Notre Dame is its tradition of serving the surrounding area through projects and drives sponsored by the administration and student residence halls.”

As a leader himself, McKnight recognizes what it means to stand for something larger than oneself.

He said, “To put it simply, leadership at its core is the act of sacrificing time, energy and comfort to achieve something greater than yourself. When you think of any great leader, you often think of what they put on the line for what they believed in. The founding fathers put their fortunes, families and lives on the line to found a nation free from despots. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt led the country through the world’s worst economic crisis and conflict all while being ravaged by partial paralysis and ailing health. More recently, Doctor Anthony Fauci has been sacrificing sleep and rest as he continues to work twenty-hour days for weeks on end to stop the deadly Coronavirus.”

Commander Vegler is one of the teachers who nominated McKnight.  He said, “Nathan is an outstanding young man and Patriot. Since joining the unit last year, he has demonstrated that he is a naturally gifted leader. His effort during his junior year led him to being hand-picked to be one of our Platoon Commanders for 2019-20. Nathan has been a tremendous addition to our Academic and Armed Basic Drill Teams. His academic efforts have led to his team earning a spot at the National NJROTC Academic Championship.  He recently earned a four-year Air Force ROTC Scholarship.  Nathan is a tremendous student as he maintains an unweighted 4.0 GPA and scoring a 30+ on the ACT.  Nathan is a tremendous young man who always goes above and beyond! He is a humble and model student who is a future leader in our countries armed forces.”