Written by Ernesto De Santiago
Social Justice Humanitas Academy is well known for its success in helping students matriculate toward college, and as well, delivering colleges a well educated and dedicated student. Although most of the students in Humanitas intend to attend a college or university next fall, there exists a diverse minority of students who are joining the military after high school.
College is a rewarding opportunity for high school students because of how successful the students become afterwards. But going to college isn't always what every student wants to do; not surprisingly, constantly surrounded by students with different future ideals than yours can be very difficult. I can’t begin to count how many times students have asked me, “why are you joining the military? or “isn't that for dumb people?” Being a student at Humanitas with a different mindset other than college is very difficult and I know from experience because I am joining the military. I often feel like an outsider because I have no one to have a conversation about the military compared to someone who is going to college; it’s different for others because most of the students are going to college.
Mia Perez agrees with my dilemma and responds “being surrounded by my peers and knowing that their ‘after high school plan’ is different than mine doesn't change my mind nor does it bring doubts about my choice. If anything, I feel special because most of the students think I enlisted because I don't have a plan. Only I know why I joined the military, and just because I don't have the same plan as they do doesn't make me any different.”
Mia and I were also talking about how teachers’ attitudes change when helping a student with college apps versus a student who needs help studying for the ASVAB- a test for the military. She expresses herself by saying “ I honestly feel disappointed which goes back as to why I feel like my responses don’t matter. Like I haven't heard of any offer from adults on campus helping out those that have plans about joining the military. They just assume that everyone wants to apply to college and don't question other options that the students may have. When it comes to college, help is offered but when it comes to the little amount of students joining the military, we have to be the ones reaching out to adults and most of the time we don't get the help we actually need.”
Mia isn't the only student who feels like her voice is being ignored; Josh Corona, a senior in Humanitas, expresses his feelings towards some of the teachers’ attitudes when it comes to military- bound students. Josh states “especially in Humanitas we have this idea that all of our kids have to go to college and that the military doesn't fit in to what the school envisions for us. Also people tend to feel like we’re lost when we say that we want to join the military. But in my case I'm joining the navy for myself because it's something that I want and I feel that college is not my route yet, and although I still want to go to college it's just not my time right now.
Josh muses on how he feels left out because of the career he has chosen. He adds, “I feel that I’m often put down in the school especially amongst teachers because when I tell them that college is not a waste of my time- it just doesn't benefit the dream that I want to achieve for myself - some teachers really get upset with my decision because they tell me to not do this- instead, to go to college because the military is not really great for me. I feel like this is bad because I feel they should be here to support us and the decisions that we make.”
Everyone has a different path in life and Humanitas is a really great school with a lot of benefits to it. But I feel that we should not be guided into doing something we don’t want to do; rather, supported and understood for our future dreams.