By Lyndsey Sorenson
Recently I was asked why I chose to attend the Alaska Military Youth Academy (AMYA).
It certainly was not an easy choice. I would be away from friends and family for 22 weeks, and there would be physical, mental, and academic demands placed on me that were beyond what I had experienced before.
I chose AMYA to prepare me for the future. I wanted to get ahead in school. I wanted to explore the possibility of a future in the military, and learn the leadership skills I would need to succeed.
Not every cadet that enters AMYA finishes the program, but for me, completing the program was more fulfilling than anything else I’ve ever done.
Academically, I was challenged to think differently about what I knew and how I learned. I had struggled in math, but an excellent instructor took the time to re-teach me. This allowed me to earn credits required for early high school graduation and to earn my GED.
I worked hard to complete extra assignments and turn them in early. This showed a commitment to my education, which opened up leadership opportunities. I became a platoon sergeant and was offered other leadership opportunities. This gave me confidence and let me improve my leadership skills.
AMYA requires cadets to take a financial literacy class, which taught me just how important it is to budget and plan for the future. I started saving for college, opened an emergency savings account, and purchased my first car, because I know I am responsible for these things.
Cadets are required to do community service. I did more than 65 hours of community service, from picking up garbage to being a track setter for the 2018 Gold Nugget Triathlon. This service within the community gave me experience working with all kinds of people and in all types of situations.
Volunteer service was most often physically demanding, and along with daily physical training (PT), I lost 45 pounds. I strengthened my body and improved my physical and mental stamina.
Everything we did at the academy built focus and grit.
I now know I can handle any obstacle I face. It was made clear that I should take any and every chance I was presented with to enhance my future.
The goal when you attend AMYA is to be able to rejoin and graduate with your class at your public school. Returning was hard, but I buckled down into my school work and graduated early.
At graduation, I had the privilege of presenting the colors. This was monumental to me, looking back as what I had overcome and all that I had learned. I was honored again to present the colors during the 4th of July Parade; I was humbled to be chosen to represent my platoon and honored to show respect to our military men and women.
Now I am a caterer and prep cook at The Bridge School and will be attending a culinary arts school in the fall. I’m excited to be able to make my dream of being a first-generation college student into a reality. I have always wanted to attend college and AMYA gave me the academic foundation, the confidence, the focus, and the grit to make that a reality.