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Photo by Amanda Hickey
Sylvia Henriquez works on her homework in the computer
lab at Village Apartments. Henriquez recently returned to
campus after four years in the Navy, 13 months of which
was spent out of the country.

Military student finds future here

By Amanda Hickey

When freshman Sylvia Henriquez came to UNCP the first time in 2002, she found that she quickly fell in with the wrong crowd.
This time, however, Henriquez returned to campus with a new perspective and experience behind her to earn her degree in Spanish.

“In January [2003], I attempted to take all the same classes that I had taken first semester and failed, and by March I realized that I was hanging out with the wrong crowd and needed to get rid of them, so I withdrew from all of my classes April 3 and started to work full time at Blockbuster. By April 27, I realized that that’s not something I want to do either,” Henriquez said.

Henriquez then went to the recruiting office in Fayetteville and joined the Navy. By April 29, she was on her way to the military entry processing station (MEPS) and on May 5, she left for basic training.

Henriquez spent four years in the Navy, and went on three deployments that brought her to Scotland, Norway, England, Ireland, France, Italy, Bahrain, Spain, Portugal and the United Arab Emirates.

During her four years on active duty, Henriquez was out of the country for 13 months.

While stateside, Henriquez was stationed in Jacksonville, Fla. where she remained until April 2007, when she returned to Fayetteville having served her four years.

Not only is Henriquez happy with her experience back at campus thus far, but she said that she’s realized that joining the Navy was a good decision.

“I’ve matured a lot; drinking and partying isn’t my main priority in life. I really think that is going to help me a lot this time compared to last time. I got all the partying out of my system while I was in the Navy,” Henriquez said.

“It’s a very big difference between the person I am now and the person who I was back then. I was very immature, I was all about pleasing everyone else [and] I didn’t care about me. It’s one of those things that you learn who your true friends are when it all comes down to it,” Henriquez continued.

For Henriquez, joining the military to get out of a bad situation was a logical decision.

“If you don’t know what you want to do with your life, then join the military. It keeps you out of trouble and it’s a better paying job with better benefits than anything else [you] could get,” Henriquez said.

Four years in the military also gave her the time to mature enough to come back to school with a desire to do well in her classes.

“I got out knowing that there was something else that I was supposed to do. I enjoyed helping my country, but I would rather help the future of America,” said Henriquez who hopes to be a high school Spanish teacher one day.

“Whether we like it or not, our kids are going to be the ones running this place one day and I would want to know that I am sending them out into the world well educated,” Henriquez said.

The University of North Carolina at Pembroke The print edition of The Pine Needle
is published 14 times a year
during the fall and spring semesters.

Updated: Sunday, November 4, 2007
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