Em­brac­ing life with dis­ci­pline, courage and per­se­ver­ance

The Progress-Index Weekend - - COMMUNITY - By Jalen Har­ris Richard Bland Col­lege of Wil­liam & Mary Jalen Har­ris is a mem­ber of the Richard Bland Col­lege of Wil­liam & Mary Class of 2019.

Septem­ber 12, 2015. It may have been an or­di­nary day for most peo­ple. But for me, this day would be­gin a piv­otal shift in my life. As I raised my right hand, I pledged to join the Na­tional Guard of the Air Force. I soon be­came a stronger man, with many new skills and ready to pro­tect my coun­try.

I grad­u­ated from Va­rina High School in the top 100 with a 3.5 GPA. I had the aca­demic abil­ity to at­tend many four-year in­sti­tu­tions, but de­cided to take the un­con­ven­tional route and en­list. The op­por­tu­nity to be­come a more well-rounded per­son through ex­pe­ri­ences gained in the mil­i­tary was too good to pass up.

Fol­low­ing grad­u­a­tion, I went through eight weeks of ba­sic train­ing at Lack­land Air Force Base in San An­to­nio, Texas. Dur­ing that time, I earned sev­eral dis­tin­guished ac­co­lades, and most im­por­tantly, the re­spect of my peers. I com­pleted my Tech School train­ing at Fort Lee, where I was cho­sen as the high­est-rank­ing air­man in a grad­u­at­ing class of 300. My cur­rent as­sign­ment is at Lan­g­ley Air Force Base in Hamp­ton, where I earned two Mem­ber-of-the-Month awards and a quar­terly Air­man-of-the-Year award in 2017.

Fol­low­ing my train­ing at Fort Lee, I was ready to at­tend col­lege. Richard Bland Col­lege of Wil­liam & Mary was the per­fect place for me to be­come re-ac­cli­mated with school af­ter a twoyear hia­tus. I joined the RBC Hon­ors pro­gram to chal­lenge my­self aca­dem­i­cally. I was de­ter­mined to be a suc­cess­ful col­lege stu­dent.

At­tend­ing RBC was a great de­ci­sion. The aca­demics have been chal­leng­ing. I have made new friends and en­joy a va­ri­ety of learn­ing and so­cial ac­tiv­i­ties.

In spring 2018, I earned a 4.0 GPA. Even as a full-time stu­dent at RBC, I still have du­ties in the Air Na­tional Guard. My hours are flex­i­ble, al­low­ing me to work a part­time job at Kroger.

I will grad­u­ate RBC in May. I am con­sid­er­ing three trans­fer op­tions, in­clud­ing Wil­liam & Mary, the Univer­sity of Rich­mond and Vir­ginia Tech. With my mil­i­tary train­ing, I could be­come a com­mis­sioned of­fi­cer in the Air Force, or a civil­ian fed­eral em­ployee work­ing in busi­ness or com­mu­ni­ca­tions.

Wher­ever my path leads, I will con­tinue to em­brace life with dis­ci­pline, courage, and per­se­ver­ance.

[CON­TRIB­UTED PHOTO]

Jalen Har­ris is a mem­ber of the Richard Bland Col­lege of Wil­liam & Mary Class of 2019. This Statesman Scholar is also a mem­ber of the Air Na­tional Guard.

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