FORT KNOX, Ky.—When you don’t know where you want your story to lead, pursuing a path in the Army can provide a place to start. Whether looking for a way to give back to the family that’s dedicated to providing you with opportunities or to carry on a legacy of service, the Army can provide that foundation. For Cadet Alex Park, University of Pittsburgh, 10th Regiment, Advanced Camp, the Army gave him the tools he needed to begin writing his own story of gratitude through his service. “My journey started back in high school. I graduated pretty young, so I was […]
FORT KNOX, Ky.—When you don’t know where you want your story to lead, pursuing a path in the Army can provide a place to start. Whether looking for a way to give back to the family that’s dedicated to providing you with opportunities or to carry on a legacy of service, the Army can provide that foundation.
For Cadet Alex Park, University of Pittsburgh, 10th Regiment, Advanced Camp, the Army gave him the tools he needed to begin writing his own story of gratitude through his service.
“My journey started back in high school. I graduated pretty young, so I was going to college when I was still 17,” Park said. “I really wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. There was the usual stress of picking schools, a major, and just moving on to college. I was still figuring it out.”
Like many others, Park saw the Armed Forces as a clear path that would provide a sense of purpose and stability as well as offer new opportunities.
“When I heard about joining the Army, I thought it would be a good opportunity to learn about myself as well as meeting people from all around the country and gain new experiences,” Park said. “I joined the National Guard three days after I turned 18.”
Park’s family heavily inspired him to join, he feels like he owes them for giving him a chance at a better life in the United States.
“My family is from South Korea, I’m the only one in my immediate family to be born in the United States. Since my uncle served in the South Korean military, I decided to carry it on, to be the first in my immediate family to join the United States military,” Park said. “I want to set up a brighter future for myself and give back to my parents as much as possible. They moved here to start a new opportunity for me and my sisters.”
In South Korea, service in the military or equivalent civil service is required for all men between the ages of 18 and 35. This service is seen as a part of a citizen’s duty, with a cultural sense of pride for those who fulfill their responsibilities.
The motivation of his family and goals ensure that Park pushes himself throughout his training.
“I’m very self-motivated, I want to make sure I can set myself well for after I graduate in the next year,” Park said. “I’m just trying to learn more about myself, about my peers, and learn whatever I can before I graduate.”
As Park continues in his career, he takes each new moment to better himself as a person and a soldier.
“Each experience since I enlisted in the National Guard and joined the Reserve Officers’ Training Program has kind of set me apart from my peers,” Park said. “The Army has treated me well so far. There’s good times and bad times, but you’ve just got to persist. I want to see where this life takes me.”
Most of Park’s opportunities through the Army have been new experiences with new places and faces.
“Whether it’s training with the regiment here or my basic combat training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. I’ve learned a lot from people from all different parts of the country. I love learning where other people come from and figuring out their why.”
As Park moves towards the end of CST, he looks ahead to what he wants to gain from this new experience.
“My next checkpoint will be graduating from CST and performing to the highest degree I can,” Park said. “I want to be able to do my best while I’m out here.”
Learning to grow together, succeed together, and fail together is the highlight of CST to many Cadets. Being able to watch yourself advance alongside your fellow Cadets is often the greatest takeaway as they progress through graduation and beyond.
“The best thing about CST is the people, whether it’s your squad, your platoon, or your company. We all start off in the same place when we come to CST for the first time,” Park said. “It really reminds me of that freshman year of college, when everyone is meeting everyone else in the elevators, seeing all the other dorm rooms, dining halls. We all go through the same thing. We all embrace the ‘suck’ together.”
After graduating, Park plans to remain in the National Guard, continue giving back to his family, and to set up his brighter future.
Sam Mitchell is a senior at Murray State University where he is pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree Journalism/Media Production. He hopes to grow as a videographer, editor, and photographer over the course of this internship. After college, Mitchell hopes to speak for a living, pursuing a career in radio and voiceover. Above all else, he aspires to have fun and truly enjoy whatever kind of situation he finds himself in.