Army is next stop for reluctant student
Michelle Jinks is a 17-year-old whose brown hair is long and curly. Her friends tease her that she'll have to shave it off like G.I. Jane when she begins military training in January.
Jinks, a senior at Lansing High School, has opted to graduate early so she can become a truck driver for the U.S. Army. She will attend Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri for her basic and advanced training. But Jinks won't be shaving her head - she'll just pull her hair back, she said.
One of her reasons for graduating early was purely practical.
"I would rather do basic training in the winter rather than a Missouri summer," she said.
Her other reason was more of a personal one.
"I don't really like school. I just want to get it done," Jinks said.
Jinks enlisted in the Army on Sept. 30 for a five-year stint. She could have enlisted for just three or four years, she said, but committing to five years carried the biggest bonus.
Jinks said she was excited about driving trucks, a job she picked.
"I like driving. I want to drive the huge trucks," she said. "That's my deal."
She hopes to drive tank transporters, she said.
While Jinks is enthusiastic about her future, some of her friends aren't keen on her choice to join the Army. They're afraid she'll be sent to Iraq, she said.
However, Jinks honestly doesn't know where she'll end up when she finishes her training.
"I have no idea," she said. "They didn't tell me that."
Still, Jinks is confident in her choice. She's already survived a day at a military inprocessing station in Kansas City, Mo., where she went through routine checks for height, weight, hearing, vision and flexibility.
"If I didn't really want to do it, I would not have gone to the inprocessing that took, like, a day and was so boring," she said.
Though she was open to any branch of the armed services - "It's the same to me," she said - Jinks chose the Army. Her father, Michael Jinks, is retired from the Army.
The Army also provided an advantage over another option, the Kansas National Guard. By joining the National Guard, Jinks said, she would only be guaranteed tuition in Kansas. With the Army, however, she can go to any school in the country.
Despite her dislike of school, Jinks said she hoped to attend a college in Montana that offers a horsemanship program when she gets out of the Army. She said five years in the military might just offer her the break from school that she needs because she doesn't want to go back just yet.
"You get excited about getting out of school, then," Jinks said with a sigh, "gotta go to college now."
Parents: Michael C. Jinks Jr. and Sabine Jinks
Best advice received: If you don't fully want to do something, like for the rest of your life or a while, don't do it because you will eventually hate it.
What she'll miss most about high school: I will miss all my friends.