by Sasha Ryu
This year, senior Joel Hoang tested into the 94th percentile of military applicants who took the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, thus earning himself an opportunity to undergo a second written examination and physical at a nearby military base. Thanks to hours of practice and studying, Hoang exceeded every requirement to enlist in all five branches of the U.S. Military.
The day he passed his last assessment, Hoang signed an eight-year contract to serve in the Marines, committing himself to six years of active duty and two years of part-time service. Although he was also interested in joining the Air Force and the Navy, he ultimately opted to become a Marine for “the extra challenge.”
When he’s not training alongside his fellow military recruits, Hoang spends his free time participating in Spartan Runs, practicing the guitar, and attending SVCTE’s Law Enforcement course, where he studies the Constitution, first aid, and more. The class offers an opportunity to get a head-start on the Criminal Justice degree he hopes to attain in college.
According to Hoang, his unwavering commitment to push himself above and beyond stems, in large part, from his tumultuous childhood.
“I was twelve when my parents adopted me from Taiwan,” Hoang stated. “Before that, I lived in a group home with a ton of other kids. I was doing really poorly in school, but nobody seemed to notice or care. There weren’t enough adults around to really keep track of us. Most of the kids who aren’t adopted end up homeless; lots of them don’t live past their twenties because of [violence or drugs]. Once you turn 18, you get 200 dollars and then you’re pretty much on your own. You’re trapped.”
To cope with tragedies he experienced during his time at the group home, Hoang turned to one of the guards who worked at the establishment.
“He took care of me, protected me, gave me food and candy. He was a veteran. He told me stories about saving people during the war. He never smoked, never drank… he didn’t even use his phone. He was always present,” Hoang commented. “I always told myself that I would join the military to be like him. He’s in my heart, in my brain; [when things are hard,] I always see him [at] the end of the tunnel.”
A deeply kind, hardworking, and thoughtful individual who continues to overcome the greatest obstacles life has to offer, Joel Hoang is bound to make the world a better place.
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