Taking flight: Senior Lauren Yancey is on her way to start a new chapter in her life


Photo by Lauren Yancey

Kylee White and Karen Hrlic

High school is the time for many students to figure out what job field to enter, whether it’s nursing, teaching, or maybe even starting your own business. However, senior Lauren Yancey has taken a different path than most. With one year left of her high school experience,  Yancey is taking flight into the next phase of her life.

Yancey has been working towards joining the International Air Guard and plans to go through basic training once she graduates.

“The International Guard is a reserve component of the Air Force. What that means is you’ll still go to the Air Force basic training, but the only difference is you’ll come back to Indiana one weekend a month, two months a year,” Air Force Technical Sergeant Seth Roberts said. “Everyone says that it’s really easy to join the military, but it’s actually not that easy.”

According to Roberts, only 10% of the population is actually eligible to join the military, and of those people, only 1% end up joining. Yancey happens to be part of that small group. Not only is she eligible to be a part of the Air Guard, she has taken the necessary steps to be able to join.

“I’ve wanted to serve since middle school, no one in my family has. I looked into several different branches and I discovered the International Guard,” Yancey said. “They had really good benefits, I thought it would be a cool experience.”

When taking the next steps into joining the Air Guard, she met with Roberts.

“[Lauren] contacted me and told me how she’s always wanted to be in the Air Force because no one in her family has been, but that she also wanted to go to college as well,” Roberts said. “So we met, went over the benefits of the Air Guard, she went through MEPS (Military Entrance Processing System), did the physical and she became medically qualified to join.”

Yancey met with Roberts her junior year, but wasn’t able to enlist until her senior year. This was because of the fact that you only have 365 days until you leave for basic training. Even though the International Guard is a part of the Air Guard, Yancey won’t actually learn how to fly.

“My MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) actually doesn’t include learning to fly. My job is Munition Specialist, and since I haven’t gone through job training and basic yet, we can only observe,” Yancey said.

The munition specialist’s job is to handle high-explosive incendiary rounds, nuclear weapons, and a vast array of bombs. And because Yancey has decided to join the International Guard, her school responsibilities are just as important as her future.

“One of the great things about the International Guard is that we do offer 100% tuition assistance to any state funded school. There are about 29 different state funded schools out there, there’s no specific one that we don’t cover,” Roberts said.

“She’s enlisted now, she’s a full member, even though she’s still in high school,” Roberts said. “So she’ll be able to complete a full year off of her contract with us before she graduates high school. Once she graduates, she’s going to basic training, tech school, and then come back to Indiana and attend Purdue. Since we’re only one weekend a month, she could be a full time student at Purdue.”

Yancey’s family fully supports the decisions that she’s made and the path that she has chosen.

“My family was really helpful in deciding which branch was best and supporting me. My mom was actually the one who found out about the International Guard,” Yancey said. “Before that I had heard about the Army and Marines, but I’ve never heard about the International Guard.”

COVID-19 has also had an effect on her current commitment, resulting in a different drill experience than usual.

“Normally they have one drill weekend a month, the only difference right now is that they can’t have as many people. Now it’s been split into two weekends, and they have a rotation so that you still only go one weekend, so that way they limit the amount of people on base,” Yancey said.