Focus goes from earning diploma to earning her wings

Former Del Mar student Erin Miller received a music scholarship last fall but dropped out because she realized college was not for her.

“I dropped out to join the Air Force because of all the amazing benefits,” Miller said. “Your college will be paid for, free health care, and I’ve always loved people who are willing to fight for our country.”

Miller was inspired by a family friend.

“He was in the Marines and died when they were on tour,” Miller said. “They were supposed to go out and make sure there were no bombs anywhere, but they got ambushed and he sacrificed himself to save everyone in his group.”

Miller called the fallen Marine an inspiration because of how committed he was to protecting his group.

“I went to his funeral when I was 12 years old, and I loved the idea of playing instruments at funerals because it proved they did something worth their sacrifice,” Miller said. “I recently decided I’d rather actually go into the Air Force and do more than just play music.”

Miller’s family was mixed about her new ambitions.

“My mom doesn’t want me to join, because she’d rather me go back to college and become a teacher like initially planned,” Miller said. “My dad hasn’t said he doesn’t want me to go into the military, but I know that’s how he feels. He almost went into the military, but my mom got pregnant with me, so he backed out.”

Brian Lepley, U.S. Army public relations manager based in San Antonio, said many students are just like Miller when it comes to college life.

“If a hundred kids start as freshmen, about 60 of them will graduate,” Lepley said. “The other 40 are more concerned about (drinking and friends) compared to focusing on education.”

Lepley said the Army can offer a chance at a good future.

De La Rentae Evans, an Army veteran and electrical engineering major, enlisted for the military when he turned 18.

“The experience was difficult, especially where you dwelled,” Evans said. “The Army did teach me to be responsible but did not teach me about time management.”

Evans laughed while talking about his “lessons” he learned during his time in the Army.

“They taught me what to do, where to do it, and when to do it,” Evans said. “If anything, the biggest thing I learned was how to analyze the things I do want and the things I don’t.”

Miller has yet to apply for the Air Force but is still set on joining.

“I actually plan on going back to school, possibly in the fall, to major in engineering,” she said. “I figure if I have an actual understanding of what I could be doing in the Air Force, it won’t be so hard when I do enlist.

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