‘We salute you’: Graduating seniors pursue military service


Photo Jenna Miller

Jenna Miller with her acceptance to West Point

Ava Maurillo and Mary-Joy Sidhom

This time of year most seniors are worried about getting into their dream schools, choosing the perfect major and planning their May 1 outfit for College Decision Day. For the Class of 2018, 94.6 percent of graduating seniors planned to continue their educational careers at different schools, while only .6 percent enlisted in the military.

In a town that is driven by academic excellence, pursuing a life in the military instead of college can seem even more daunting. Senior Matt Eagan is planning to join the Marines or the Army after high school and feels alienated by his decision. “I feel a little alone, it’s a different path,” said Eagan. “High school is more geared towards going to college, my parents pushed for college, but I know a lot of guys who are going [into the armed forces] so I’m not alone.”

Senior John Kwok, who will be preparing to enlist in the Navy, shares the same sentiment. “I do sometimes feel like an outsider, especially when my friends’ parents ask what college I’m going to after high school,” said Kwok. “When I tell them [I’m joining] the military and plan on going to college afterwards, their reactions are definitely interesting.”

Pursuing your own path can be intimidating for many, but senior Alivia Scott, who plans on becoming a Military Intelligence Officer after high school, knew that serving her country was something important to her. “I don’t like the norm of going straight to college,” said Scott. “I’m going to do what makes me happy.”

Senior Jenna Miller found a way to get a degree while also dedicating herself to the military in the next four years of her life.

“I first found out what a service academy was when a family friend of ours committed to the Naval Academy for soccer,” Miller said. “When I found out you could go to a very good school and be in the military, I knew it was what I wanted to do.” Miller will be attending the United States Military Academy at West Point next fall.

Serving in the military definitely has its benefits. For example, if you choose to attend a university after serving, the G.I. Bill pays for your tuition as well as health care and housing.

Also, for many seniors, their decision to join  the military is rooted in family history. Senior Devin DeRosa, who will be attending Penn College and enrolling in the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC), has familial ties to the military. “My grandpa fought in World War II,” said Devin. “He was in the Air Force and he’s been an inspiration for me. My grandpa’s cousin was in World War I and he was in the Navy.” In honor of his grandpa’s cousin, Devin wears his Navy pin around his neck.

Senior Connor Hach will be attending boot camp straight out of high school and is also inspired by his family, namely his uncle. “He served in Afghanistan with the United States Marines,” said Hach. “He has helped me decide on what branch and has helped me through the whole process of joining.”

Many seniors planning to enlist have known that they have wanted to do so from a young age. “When I was in kindergarten I saw a documentary on the military and I knew right then that was what I wanted to do when I grew up,” said senior Thomas DeRosa, who plans to enroll in the Navy ROTC in college.

Like Thomas, senior John Ossman has a similar incentive for joining the military. “I’ve always wanted to serve my country,” Ossman said. He will be attending Rutgers University next year and will  also enroll in their ROTC program.

While these seniors are all looking to pursue some type of military service, each have different goals in mind. Devin’s plans to join the military stem from his love for his country. “I want to serve this country,” said Devin. “I’ve always switched around on what exactly I’ve wanted to do, but I just know I want to be a part of the fight and keep this country safe.”

In addition to the patriotic reasons that Devin expressed, graduating seniors also have other reasons to serve. Kwok hopes to have experiences that college would otherwise not have provided him. “I hope to travel around the world for five years in the Navy,” Kwok said. “I also hope to meet lifelong friends and form bonds with people who have similar life goals as me.”

There are many opportunities that arise when joining the military, but it is by no means an easy task. “It’s all about authority and ranking systems,” Eagan said. “I have been involved with the military for close to seven years and I’ve risen through the ranks. Some people think it’s what they want and find out that it is something completely different.”

Although it’s difficult, Thomas believes that others should consider joining. He referenced former president Ronald Reagan to further explain the importance of serving your country. “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction,” Thomas said, quoting Reagan.

We applaud these seniors for the sacrifices they are making in order to protect us and our country. To these seniors paving a path for other students who may want to join the military, we salute you.