Today marks the beginning of a new chapter in the life of Smith-Cotton senior Jonathan Stewart.
While many recent graduates will have a few months of summer before starting college and the transition to an eventual career, Stewart will report to his basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas today.
“Before I made up decision to enlist I thought really carefully about all of my options; I knew there were other routes and options I could take but entering the Air Force seemed like a perfect opportunity,” Stewart said. “I could have made the decision to go straight into college and be in debit or I could go to the military and earn money while I get my education.
“I will have my benefits provided and later the GI Bill will pay for college if I chose that route,” he added. Most importantly this provides me with an opportunity to serve others and my country.”
Stewart plans to enter the Aerospace medical nursing program and said he would be pleased to either work in a base hospital or jump out of helicopters as an EMT if he needed to do so.
“Both my mom and sisters are nurses and so I know the need for medical personal is always there,” Stewart said. Dr. Kelly Edwards is also a role model to me and someone I admire greatly.
“I had shoulder surgery during my sophomore year and he helped get me back on my feet so I could play football again,” Stewart added. “I will always be grateful for his help.”
Stewart was a lineman for S-C and commented that the football program at the school helped to instill a sense of discipline and self-motivation that he will use in the service.
“In football we pushed ourselves until we thought we couldn’t do it anymore and then we got up and did it again just to get better and improve,” Stewart said. “That is the advice I would give to others, never stop pushing yourself.
“When you get back down, get back up,” he added. “Never stop pushing yourself and strive to be the best at all you can do.”
If Stewart has any regrets, it would be his desire to play more sports while in school.
“I hate that I only played football,” Stewart said. “I learned so much discipline through that.
More than that though, I have so many relationships grow with the friends I made with my teammates; these are people who I will keep with me for the rest of my life,” he added. “Football and my friends helped me to find what I truly want to do in life, help people who are in need and serve others.”
One way Stewart plans to help others is by continuing his artistic endeavors.
Stewart has been highly involved in the art program at Smith-Cotton adding that many people assumed he would go to college to study art.
“I think everyone expected me to go to school to do something with my art,” Stewart said. “I think I really surprised a lot of people when I didn’t.
“I can still do my drawing and art work when I am in the service,” he added. “It will just be something I do one the side that maybe people will see and enjoy.”
Stewart will graduate from basic training in November and has enlisted for a six-year commitment.
“I will be 24 when those six years are up,” Stewart said. “If for some reason the military isn’t the right fit for me I can leave then.
“I don’t think that will happen though, I have been around the base and I like the environment there because everyone seems to be motivated there,” he added.
Stewart said he could see himself, possibly becoming an officer in the Air Force by the opportunities available to him in the military.
“I know I can be stationed anywhere in the world, and I am hoping for that opportunity,” Stewart said. “I do have a few fears but I know this is what I want to do because I will be doing something that is in service and for the good of others.”
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484