Students prepare to join the military

While most seniors are busy studying, reaching out to colleges and critiquing their applications, a few students at NPHS have been working on both their academics and physical ability as they prepare to go into the military.

For Ryan Collier, a senior going into the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, entering the military has been a goal for many years. “I really started to get into it when I started to figure out where I wanted to go for college,” Collier said. “I’m also graduating to become a second lieutenant. You take classes, you receive your degree, it’s four years.” Collier is planning to take biology classes at the academy as well as military training.

The military requires an entirely different skill set from other post-graduation careers. “Physical training and learning how to be in the military is kind of a shock to the system… that’s what’s different about the academy than going to a normal college,” Collier said.

Rohan Solanki, senior, is also heading to the Air Force and is currently awaiting his call date this summer through a Delayed Entry Program (DEP.) “During this time, DEP recruits like myself do training, physical workouts, memorize some of the important work that will be done at boot camp, basic military training,” Solanki said.

Even within the same branch of the military, the process can vary vastly depending on a recruit’s assignment. “After boot camp, you have your job training, which will be about two to three months, and that can be anywhere in the country,” Solanki said. “I got assigned as a drone pilot, which is called a UAV operator. We’ll go to Randolph Airforce Base in Northern Texas after basic military training.”

For others, like Joel Botello, senior, the military was not the path they expected to follow. “I never really pictured myself joining, but I talked to the recruiter and he told me how everything was going to go and I saw that it was going to improve myself and help me learn new skills. I found myself getting too comfortable in life and I knew I needed to get out of my comfort zone,” Botello said.

Botello had the opportunity to get ahead by attending boot camp last summer in order to head straight into six weeks of Advanced Individual Training (AIT) this July to become a Transportation Management Coordinator. “Whenever a unit deploys, you just make sure they get all their equipment, whatever they might need,” Botello said.

Camaraderie and establishing relationships is one of the most important lessons for many during their service. “I was put in with all types of people. You’re living for them for ten weeks, so you have to get along with them,” Botello said. “But when you’re there you make friends, and since you’re all going through it together you really bond.”

The day-to-day lifestyle of the military is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that gives people the chance to have a wider view of the world. “There are so many opportunities in the military that you wouldn’t necessarily get in the normal world,” Solanki said. “One of the major takeaways is being able to understand life outside of the bubble you lived in as a child.”