Exploring a seniors decision to Enlist in the Air Force after graduation


Andre Dobson, Reporter

When senior Shawn Le pictured his life after high school,  he didn’t see himself spending four more years in school. He wanted to help people and leave an impact. So he turned his attention to the military. 

For many high school students, the next step after graduation is to attend college or university. However, Le has decided to opt for a more focused and rigorous route by enlisting in the Air Force after graduation. The process of enlistment took several weeks, and Le is currently in the final stages. 

“The first month [of enlistment] is basically, ‘what do you want to do?’” Le said. “The second one is basically, ‘alright, now we need your backup plans if this doesn’t go well.’ And now we’re really just getting all the online records.”

At boot camp the physical and mental pressure put on Le will be intense. On top of this, he will only be allowed 5 minutes a week to talk to his family. The eight-week process will be long and rigorous.

“I want to come back as somebody who [my friends and family] can really be proud of,” Le said. “But there’s always that fear that they won’t accept me for who I am. Or there’s always that fear that I will become worse than what I am.” 

Le’s fear of the uncertainty ahead however is outmatched by his motivation to do good.

“I’ve always wanted to help people,” Le said. “That’s how I’ve always felt. I know I don’t have the best way of doing it. So I feel like if I’m ever going to help people in a real way, it would probably be in the long-term as law enforcement.” 

Despite his plans to enlist in the Air Force, the military isn’t Le’s final goal. After he is finished with his service, he plans on using his experience and education to pursue a career as a law enforcement Officer.

“Every time you bring up the police, everybody seems to be hesitant,” Le said. “And I don’t want that. I don’t think that’s what the police should be. They should be our guardians. Somebody that enforces the law, not because ‘they have to,’ but because it’s the right thing to do.” 

By enlisting in the Air Force, Le will be able to secure a higher education with veterans benefits in order to facilitate the path to law enforcement. He is also hoping to use his involvement with the military to expand his horizons. He hopes that these new experiences will help better him as a person. 

“I see myself traveling to different states, different countries, wherever they send me,” Le said. “And just seeing the world, that is one of the biggest benefits. I not only get to see the world, but I get to see all these different types of people around the world and know that I’m really helping, I’m really protecting them, or I’m making them feel safe.”

Le’s journey with the military will present some uncertainties, but he hopes that the experiences and knowledge he will gain by enlisting will prepare him for a bright and promising future. 

“Having an alternative to college is great,” Le said. “Just don’t forget that if you’re going to do that, then you might as well make the most of it and just don’t waste any opportunities.”