BY LIV RIVERA
If your parents ever tell you that you’re too young to know what you want, listen to them. When I was younger I swore to myself, crossed my heart and hoped to die, that I would never, under any circumstances, do three things: shave my head, travel to Africa, or join the military. Now, as an adult I can say that I not only broke that oath, but I have enjoyed every moment of it. Junior year I buzzed off half of my hair and cut ten inches off of the remainder. Senior year I traveled out of the country for the first time, and guess where I went... Morocco which is located in the wonderful continent of Africa! Now I am in my Freshman year of college and I am a cadet in Samford’s Air Force ROTC.
I came to the decision that I wanted to be in the military at the beginning of my Senior year. My cousin had just come back from basic training and knowing that he was going to be a part of history and help people one day filled me to the brim with pride. I’ve always had an inclination towards helping people and as the tattoo over my heart reads, I have always believed that “when our time is up we’ll be ashamed or proud”. I want to die proud in the sense that I know I lived a significant life and made a positive impact in someone else’s. With that in mind, I began to seriously consider the military. I looked over every branch’s website and watched all of their videos, each one giving me goosebumps and fueling my drive to join. Finally after much research I told my parents that I wanted to enlist. They told me I needed to go to college first and so I presented the idea of ROTC. The Air Force ROTC program allows for college students to finish their education as they train to receive a commission as a second lieutenant in the United States Air Force. This option appeased my parents and allowed for me to still work towards achieving my military goals.
That being said, I was thrilled to attend my first few physical training sessions or, as us cadets call them, PTs. Even though I must wake up before the sun and push my body beyond the limits it is accustomed to, I am overjoyed to begin my journey towards entering the Air Force. In addition to my personal drive, the amount of camaraderie and encouragement that exists between the other cadets and I enables each workout to be enjoyable. The strength of the cadet bond is superior despite the short time we’ve spent together. We cheer each other on even when we can’t breathe and we lift each other up when our arms are limp. The powerful motivation from my fellow cadets ensures that there is a grin on my face even in the midst of doing pushups and burpees, the catchy jodies we sing give me the strength to run up and down numerous hills, and the fact that we are all there training to save lives proves to me that I am part of something greater than myself. I am honored to be a cadet and I cannot wait until the day all of the work pays off I sport those gold second lieutenant bars. Stay up and fly high!