Camelback High School JROTC graduate always knew she wanted to join the military

By KJZZ News
Published: Wednesday, May 24, 2023 - 5:20pm

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Graduation season is upon us — from preschool to Ph.Ds, lots of people are moving to the next chapter of their lives. In honor of that, The Show is turning the mic over to some of the most interesting grads in the Valley.

Yahira Ayala is a member of Camelback High School's JROTC program and unlike a lot of high school grads, she knows exactly what she’ll be doing next. She spoke with The Show about what’s on her horizon and beyond.

Yahira Ayala
Derek Bellows
Yahira Ayala

Hi, my name is Yahira Ayala. I am 17 years old. I go to Camelback High School. I am from California — Escondido, California. That's in San Diego. My mom is also from there. And then my dad is from Michoacan, Mexico. California's a bit expensive, so it's like over here, it's nice and, you know, cheaper. And then it's somewhere new, like a new fresh start. 

Since middle school I always knew I wanted to join the military. One of my favorite things is joining JROTC cause in my other high schools, I didn't have this class. And then my friend, she introduced me to this class and I was like, oh wow. I could get to know more about what I'm getting myself into and learn more things. There's a team here called the rifle team. It's like little pellet guns. And it was fun. I get to learn — well, it's not a real gun. And we get to learn to aim and then shoot it. 

My mom told me a story that when she was in high school, she wanted to join the military as well. She wanted to join the Marines, but in her senior year, she got pregnant and then she had me. So she couldn't find anybody else to take care of me. My first choice was Marines as well, but since joining JROTC, other recruiters from different branches came here and introduced themselves and what they do in their branches. I found out that the Navy was the most interesting for me.

She said that there was mostly traveling, like on the ship, and then I was like, oh, like that's nice. I'm getting shipped to Chicago on July 10. When I go to Chicago, I'm going to get off the bus, change into certain clothes, turn in my phone, everything. And we get assigned to our bunks and then we just, everything starts from there.

I'll have to find out when I get there and after that is graduation. And then I get to choose what base I would like to be stationed at. I was thinking San Diego cause that's where I'm originally from. Or Japan. And then that's when I start my job. My job in the Navy is an engineer and a fireman. They were like, if anything, if any war happens, I would have to be in it cause, well, I'm in the military, so I was like, all right. I'm not really scared of it. I'm just excited to learn new things and be open to anything.

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