Three members of the graduating class of Mount Saint Mary Academy in Kenmore want to pursue careers in the U.S. military. WBFO'S Focus on Education reporter Eileen Buckley met with the young women to discuss their future endeavors and their thoughts on women in the military.
Summer vacation will be cut short for Mary Elise Brady. This Wednesday the former Mount Saint Mary Senior Class President must report to the U.S. Naval Academy.
"I'm a little nervous for what is about to come," said Brady. She will begin six-week's of basic training. "But I'm also really excited to start something new and accept this challenge."
WBFO News asked Brady what inspired her to consider a career in military. "Well my papa was an aviator in the Navy at the end of World War II and the Korean War, so his stories inspired me to do something bigger and I also wanted to do something more than a lot of my classmates were choosing, like tradition college, so I wanted to make a physical difference in what I did," said Brady.
"I've always had an interest in it," said Victoria Haen. She will head to Mercyhurst University this fall to major in intelligence studies and will enroll in the school's U.S.Army ROTC program. She's hoping for a future career military intelligence, and like Brady, Haen also had family military influence.
"I have a bunch of family members who were in the military, mostly the army and so the military has always been around and a part of my life," noted Haen. But Haen expressed some anxiety for her future plans.
"If you don't have a little anxiety about joining the military I don't think you really know what you are getting yourself into," stated Haen. "I do have a little anxiety.
Classmate Jessica Anstett has enlisted into the Marine Corps. "I go to boot camp August for 13-weeks at Parris Island, South Carolina. Anstett reports August 10th. But unlike the Hane and Brady, she didn't have any family military influence. Anstett decided on her own to head directly into a military career following her high school graduation.
"One day it hit where I realized that getting a career through college right out of high school wasn't what I wanted to do," said Anstett. "So, it sounds like it was a true calling?," asked Buckley. "It honestly was. Being in a Catholic school all my life, God actually was a big part of it for helping me decide whether I wanted to go through with going to college for physical therapy or joining the Marine Corps," responded Anstett.
Listening to the recent graduates tell their stories to WBFO was the school's Assistant Principal for Institutional Advancement, Julie Wojick.
"Any girls pursing military service right outside of school or immediately upon graduation -- we are so proud of the three of these young ladies and so interested that of their paths is so different, but has a common thread," said Wojick.
Wojick said having three graduates heading into military is 'unique' in the school's history. But as part of the school's four year at Mount St. Mary curriculum, the private, catholic school emphases the importance of serving others.
"I think the service component of what we do at Mount St. Mary is common to every young lady -- it's just part of what you do when you're here," stated Wojick. "Hearing them talk about the part of the military that appeals to them being able to sever others, it doesn't surprise me, what interests me though is that they've chosen this particular career.
Wojick is intrigued to see these young women leave an all-girls environment and head into a military setting dominated by men.
"What are your thoughts for women in combat,?" asked Buckley to the young women. "I think that women can achieve anything that a man can do and no matter what position they are put in, whether it is combat or on a ship or just being in the reserves, they can do whatever they put to their mind to," said Brady.
"I actually wrote a research paper this year all about 'women in combat', so I think that there is a lot of doubt from people who aren't in the military, who haven't served with women, that they don't think women are cable of it, but when you interview a lot of leaders in the military, who worked with women, they know that as long as a women can put as her mind to it, she can do it as good as a man can," responded Haen.
"Of course it is going to be intimidating, but it is just encouragement, trying to prove to others and yourself -- I joined for a reason. I'm trying to improve myself and bring my abilities to the military," said Anstett.
All three young women said they're confident their high school gave them leadership tools to stand up to serve their country.