On June 25 senior Ashley Ezell will leave for a seven-week training boot camp to become a cadet in the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.
Ezell said she didn’t always have dreams of entering the Coast Guard post-graduation.
“As a kid I expected to grow up and go to UT like all of my friends,” Ezell said. “But I’ve always wanted to give back, and once I looked into the Coast Guard Academy I knew it was a good opportunity for me. I figured I’d be crazy not to go.”
Ezell said going into other branches of the military like the Air Force or attending West Point are good options as well, but she felt drawn to the Coast Guard.
“The Coast Guard just seems to have more opportunities for me,” Ezell said. “I like the small town atmosphere.”
Ezell will not only be maintaining a military life, but earning her bachelor’s degree as well.
“While at the academy I will be studying business and training every day,” Ezell said. “It’s a lot of yelling, pushups and memorizing things. It’s going to be really rigorous, but I think most kids need that. They want us to be successful. It’s just about how much you want it.”
Tuition for cadets is fully funded by the Coast Guard in exchange for an obligation of five years active duty service upon graduation. After graduation the cadet chooses the line of work within the Coast Guard they would like to do. Ezell said she would like to do drug interdiction which consists of stopping drugs that come into the U.S. border.
“I hope to be stationed in Hawaii,” Ezell said. “I love the sun and the warmth, and the fish and the beach; I want to get away from the cold.”
Ezell said she has been pushing herself to prepare both physically and mentally for the Coast Guard by doing various things such as going to the gym, doing yoga, and running both inside and outside in order to prepare her body for different conditions.
“Being a swimmer has prepared me for the Coast Guard,” Ezell said. “Not a lot of people can do what we do every day. It’s really difficult to get into the Coast Guard program. They only accept 200 kids, but I think they chose me because they knew I would fit in and work hard.”
Halfway through her junior year, Ezell began to consider the Coast Guard as a possibility for her.
“My friend’s dad got me into looking at the coast guard at first,” Ezell said. “He said he thought it would be a good fit for me because I’ve always had good time management skills and I am very disciplined.”
Ezell said her parents were a little shocked at first, but they had always figured she would get into something like the Coast Guard.
“My mom and dad have been supportive of my decision 100 percent,” Ezell said. “They are so proud that I am doing something more with my life than the average college student.”