For some seniors, summer will mean boot camp


Photo via The Purbalite

Taylor describes training as a difficult mental game, but good preparation for the future she has decided to pursue.

Grace Hampton and Sarah Watkins

Summertime for most seniors will be full of graduation parties, relaxation, and warm-weather adventures. Senior Vanessa Taylor will have all that for about two weeks — and then she’ll be headed toward a 10-mile backpack hike en route to serving her country.

Taylor is one of a small group of seniors who will be heading off to basic training this summer to begin life in a branch of the U.S. military. At a time when many college-bound students are fairly unsure of a major to pursue, these students already have signed on to begin a career that requires them to potentially put their lives on the line in the service.

Taylor is enlisted in an eight-year plan with the U.S. Army. She will be leaving in June for basic training that will last for 20 weeks, where she will be hiking while carrying a heavy backpack, running, working out, and participating in scenario training.

In one situation, recruits will stand in a tear-gas chamber wearing masks, but then eventually they will have to remove the masks to prepare for potential dangers they may encounter in service.

“The physical part is not the worst part,” Taylor said. “It’s the mental part.”

Taylor describes training as a difficult mental game, but good preparation for the future she has decided to pursue. She has been running track and cross country for years at Baldwin, which has helped her prepare for the physical challenge of boot camp, and she also has been training on her own.

“It makes me nervous, and I’m going to try to stay in my own head and not let the sergeants get me, but I feel ready,” Taylor said.

She had dreamed of a career in law enforcement and ultimately decided to enter the military. Joining both her law enforcement and military passions, Taylor’s plan is to serve in the military police.

Senior Matt Lewis will also be joining the military and has enlisted in the Marine Corps, following in his cousin’s footsteps. He initially made the decision to enlist after talking to a recruiter last year.

“I wanted a challenge, to fight for people who wouldn’t be able to,” Lewis said.

Lewis is signed up for four years and is excited to see where his enlistment takes him.

Senior Liam Dorsch is enlisted in the Army. He has an eight-year commitment but hopes to serve for 20. Dorsch leaves for training in July and plans on serving as a combat military specialist, similar to an emergency medical technician.

Dorsch has many family members who have served, but he said he is more inspired by his desire to help others and serve the country.

All of these students agree that their enlistments are huge commitments and that life-threatening scenarios are part of the service. The military always includes an element of danger, but the students said their passion to serve outweighs any looming risks.

“Everyone’s scared,” Dorsch said. ”You’d be crazy not to be scared.”