Senior Willow Lang will not go to college

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Willow Lang

MARINES. This fall, senior Willow Lang will begin her term as an enlisting Marine. She has been an avid athlete since a very young age, but has become extremely successful track and field, specifically, as a pole vaulter. She hopes to take the discipline, strength, and dedication that SHS track had taught her and apply it to her future career. “I know my mom promised that I never join the armed forces, so sorry mom. I love you, but this is what I want to do,” Lang said. 

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   Senior Willow Lang has taken 6 AP classes, has an honor-roll worthy GPA, holds a Sycamore indoor pole vaulting record, and loves history with the entirety of her being.

   Yet, she will not be going to college. 

   For the majority of her life, Lang has mentally committed herself to be a member of the armed forces, specifically the Marines, imagining the day she would slip into the uniform and pull on the stiff boots. Naturally, I expected there to be a familial link, perhaps a mom or dad in the army or navy.

   However, there existed none of these.

   “I was always kind of a ‘tomboy’,” she notes, though she expressed how she didn’t really like that word. “That sort of drew me to other activities where I was outdoors and using my hands.”

   “I don’t think I can say specifically when I decided, but I do remember this one moment, where I was walking across the Junior High gym and it just hit me— I want to be in the military,” Lang said.

   Other things hit her that day. Specifically, dodgeballs. Lang was not exceptional in gym class, nor did she stand out in junior high sports. Her first few years of track at the high school were not notable either. “I kind of sucked,” she said.

   Knowing the physical demand for these sorts of career paths, I was intrigued. How could someone without the sports drive and talent want to immerse themself into an area with such heavy physical demand?

   Surprisingly, the answer lay elsewhere.

   “I’ve always had an interest in doing something that is more important than me, that is part of the bigger picture. And the Marines specifically have such a strong culture of brotherhood and unity, and they really value strength and dedication, which are things that I also value. I really want to join the military to be part of that community, and do something important and significant.”

   And so, middle-school-Willow had made up her mind.

   And high-school-Willow was ready to follow through.

   The first thing Lang did was sign up with a recruiting station, and undergo all of the medical screenings that poolees are required to do. The next step was to be sworn in and then enroll in a training program to develop strength, endurance, and overall physical fitness. Lang now attends PT, or physical training, once a week, noting that it has become “the highlight of [her] week.”

   Over the course of her high school years, Lang watched her entire mentality shift no longer was she the lurker in the dodgeball game. She worked her way to the top of the podium, becoming one of the most valuable members of SHS’ track team in the field events, specifically, pole vaulting.

   Most recently, she shattered the Sycamore Indoor Track record, breaking her own record of 11-00 by 9 inches. She attributes all of her athletic success to her aspirations, stating that she thinks the dedication and teamwork of track will help prepare her for her career, and thus, she wanted to put in as much effort as possible.

   Now, as Lang finished her last few months as a senior, she hopes to achieve the job she wants, focusing on the intelligence and communications aspect of the Marines. And though some have reservations about her enlisting, Lang has one thing she wants everyone to know.

   “You may not agree completely with what the military does, and you’re totally entitled to your own opinion. But I think it’s important to remember that the people in our military are dedicated to this country, and are ultimately trying to work for the purpose of good.”

   So as millions of incoming freshmen will purchase new backpacks, dorm decor, and college textbooks, Lang will be donning her blues and straightening her cap, a smile on her face and pride in her eyes, as she marches this country closer and closer to world peace.