The life of a military student

Gabriella Bomjardim

More stories from Gabriella Bomjardim


Brandon Giles

As a high school student focusing on both academics and enlisting to the military, there is a lot to balance for sustaining grades and following the process for join the military.

Recently, I swore into the Navy with an Oath of Enlistment, and quite honestly, it was one of the biggest milestones in my life so far. Being in high school is difficult enough with having to focus on academics; now add the process of enlisting in the military. Before I swore in, I faced many challenges with the process of enlisting. 

During my enlisting process, I had to go to the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) multiple times. MEPS is a building staffed with military and civilian professionals who determine if a person’s physical qualifications and moral standards are ready for each branch of service, according to Goarmy. During my enlisting process, I had many absences and tardies due to me being at the recruiting station or MEPS. 

I started studying for the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test my junior year and finally took the test going into my senior year. The test determines which range of military career a person is going to be able to apply to. My first visit to MEPS was when the absences and tardies had begun. Because I had to be at MEPS at five in the morning, I had to sleep in a hotel for at least two nights. During those nights, I got little sleep. I had homework for Advanced Placement (AP) classes, newspaper articles to write and videos to take notes from. I had to manage my time so that I could sleep early and avoid being tired for the MEPS the next morning. If military personnel caught you sleeping at MEPS they made you stand for the rest of the time you were in that location, meaning I could not risk going to sleep late those nights. 

One thing that could’ve helped me during those nights was letting my teachers know beforehand that I was going to MEPS. That way, I would be able to go to sleep knowing my homework was done.

When I slept at the hotel, I had to wake up at three a.m. in order to make it in time for the bus. I used buses that took other candidates as well: people being shipped out to boot camp, others going to MEPS for their physical, and even the ASVAB test takers.

The first time I went to MEPS, it was to take my physical. From five a.m. to 11 a.m. I was supposed to get my ASVAB test, physical, fingerprints, and background check all done in that one visit. However, I was informed that day that I had to go back to MEPS again due to an issue with communication between my recruiter and I.

When I came back the next time, I was there from five a.m. to one p.m. I had to get a waiver to say that my condition was not going to affect me and my job. If I got declined for a waiver, then I could not join the Navy, and I would have to pick another branch, which I was not happy about. 

Luckily, the Navy is fast and I was able to get a waiver in the time span of 30 minutes. When I got the waiver that day, I was beyond happy; it meant I could get through the rest of the process that day. After the rest of my physical was completed, I chose my job. The Navy. 

It was the last time I would be in MEPS. That day, I returned to school during lunch and talked with my first four teachers to turn in all my homework.

The last time I had to leave school was for my Oath of Enlistment. I left my sixth period early that day and left for my recruiting station. During that time, I was blessed with the opportunity to get a better job in the Navy than the one my ASVAB score recommended. Of course, I had to get a one-point waiver—the process of asking the service to make an exception in your particular case—and I was able to go from a Yeomen, a desk job that works with personal information, to a Hospital Corpsman. This meant that I would now be in hospitals and clinics.

After that, I was done with being absent from school. I could focus on staying on track to make sure I graduate with my class. 

There are always pros and cons to the military, but being in the military comes with many benefits, such as health and dental insurance and education almost all paid for. 

This stepping stone is an exciting part of my life, especially since I have the opportunity to travel and make new friends. I cannot change anyone’s mind about where they want to go or what they want to do, but in the end, I highly recommend joining the military.