MARYSVILLE – The school district and Career and Technical Education Department hosted its first-ever Military Careers Day on May 10 to give students a rare opportunity to see how serving their country, pursuing a career or earning a college degree may be more intertwined than they imagined.
Military professionals from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard and National Guard met with 11th and 12th graders to learn more about the branches of the military, what they do, and how military service can get them where they want to go in life.
“Our job is to open doors and to expose the kids to more opportunities,” said David Carpenter, Marysville-Pilchuck High School Career and Technical Education counselor. “You never know what might spark interest in a student, and one experience may shift their trajectory for the better. It is our job to put as many opportunities in front of them so nothing passes them by.”
Monica Lane, Career and Tech Ed Counselor, said the turnout was impressive for a first time.
“We’ve got great response from kids, and the members of the Armed Forces are happy to be here,” Lane said. “We hope to build on it.”
The event also drew students from Marysville Getchell High School and the Tulalip Secondary Campus.
Students had a chance to marvel at equipment and vehicles used by the military, while meeting face to face with soldiers and others in uniform who came ready with information about training, education and career paths.
CTE officials emphasized that the day was not a recruiting event.
With a highly active NJROTC program housed at M-P, Naval Station Everett, the Navy PX/Commissary and regional Armed Forces Reserve Center based in Marysville, and a large number of active duty and retired military personnel living in Marysville, the military has a lasting presence in the region.
Lane said counselors talked to some students who are already planning to go into the military, mentioning that she had 40 kids in October take the ASVAB, a timed multi-aptitude test that required to join the military, but also a helpful test for helping kids puzzle out what their skill set might be. Carpenter had about the same number of test-takers.
“They want to serve their country, but then the next question becomes, ‘great, but what do you want to do while you’re in the military?’” she said. “There are so many careers.”
M-P sophomore twins Alissa and Kelsey Edge did their homework.
The pitcher (Kelsey) and catcher (Alissa) on the Tommies softball squad want to get into college and play softball – if those pursuits can be wrapped around serving their country, they would give it some serious thought.
“I liked learning about the different types of jobs and also how the military can help us get schooling, and with how they accommodate us as well, because we want to get into school and play softball,” Alissa said.
I learned that I can go to school, and the military won’t be my full-time job; it’ll only be part of it,” Kelsey said. “You sometimes think there won’t be certain types of jobs in the military, but they are there. Medics. Underwater welders. Even sports med and physical therapy.”
Thinking out loud, Alissa is interested in sports medicine and liked what the Navy had to offer to help her reach that goal.
Kelsey is interested in becoming an EMT. Navy would be an option, but the National Guard and Coast Guard personnel she spoke with also made a case for joining the reserves in either branch after college and a set career.
“The Coast Guard does more of the stuff I want to do, which is outside and hands on, plus they help out with natural disasters and stuff like that.”
Military personnel enjoyed meeting with the students, saying that half the battle was just getting young people to understand what their branch of service does.
Eric Lehman and fellow Navy divers fielded questions at a table with diving helmets on display, and gray dive boat behind them.
“Obviously we have all the toys for the kids to see, but not a lot of people know what divers do – that’s probably the biggest question we get,” Navy diver Eric Lehman said. For the curious, they do marine salvage, harbor clearance, ship repair and submarine rescue, among other tasks.
Maybe Navy isn’t the job that you eventually get, but if you want, any branch really, in the Navy you have a lot of options to go to school while you’re active duty, and then when you get out, college is still an option, using your GI bill.
“Realistically, you could do half your schooling while you’re on active duty,” Lehman said. “That’s my big push to students, and education isn’t getting any cheaper.”
College isn’t for everybody. Lehman said the Navy and other branch also offer decent trade skills that become valuable outside the military, and the supply of skilled crafts isn’t keeping up with demand.
“We need well-spoken individuals, but at the same time, we need people to turn wrenches,” Lehman said. “They’re aren’t a lot of people turning wrenches right now.”
Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Dan Hamilton was impressed with the positive attitude from the students that stopped by.
He said the Coast Guard may be the smallest service branch, but they still have both active duty and reserve positions.
Hamilton said getting an education during enlistment is very doable.
The Coast Guard offers full tuition assistance while they’re in, paying for up to six courses per year, he said. They also provide a $500 grant for books per year.
Hamilton said he is close to finishing his associate’s degree, and his wife who’s also in the Coast Guard already earned her associate’s and is almost finished with her bachelor’s degree.
No branch at the career event could compete with the lines that formed to enter the Army Adventure Semi, a self-contained system inside that features virtual reality simulators, weapons laser shot simulators, flight simulators, an Interactive Robotic Arm simulator and other technology.
Army Staff Sgt. Katrena Barnett and her team said the career day was a great idea to bring students face to face with the soldiers who protect the country here and abroad.
“I think it’s a great idea to have all our armed forces here – we are one force, one fight, right?” Barnett said.