by Alyssa Mentzer ’12written for The Loquitur, Cabrini’s student newspaper: www.theloquitur.com
Every student who passes through Cabrini is given the opportunity to take their own path, to create their own future, to “do something extraordinary.”
While many students go on to be teachers, accountants, or psychologists, very few go on to defend our country. Sophomore Tyler Canada has chosen a unique path by joining the Army.
“Since I was little I have always wanted to do it,” Canada said. “My dad taught me everything. It’s all he used to tell me about.”
Canada began his training this past summer in Fort Benning, Ga., where he spent nine weeks enduring intense training. Training began with reception, which consisted of two days of medical exams, uniform fittings, one shower, and no sleep. From there, Canada was put on a crammed bus and taken to where his “real training” would begin.
“You’re freaking out, you don’t know what to expect,” Canada said. “When we reached our destination the doors opened and the sergeants started throwing kids down the stairs off the bus. Once we were all off the bus they made us run down a hill carrying 150 pounds of gear, and then run 100 stairs for 30 minutes. At one point I was thinking, ‘I want to go home.’”
For the next nine weeks, Canada went through physical training of running, sit-ups, push-ups, very little sleep, and other strenuous work-outs to prepare him for what he is going to have to face once he is deployed.
“You would go through muscle failure multiple times a day, when your muscles can’t do anymore work and you just collapse,” he said. “You just keep trying to get up. There is no staying down or stopping. As long as you keep trying and pushing yourself, you don’t get yelled at.”
Although basic training takes a lot of physical energy, it also takes a mental toll. “Basic training is 80 percent mental, 20 percent physical,” Canada said. “The physical part comes along because they force you to do it, but most of it is mental. If you have it in your mind that you want to complete it, you’re going to do it.”
For those nine weeks, Canada had no contact with the outside world via cell phone or internet. His only source of communication was through letters that were always two or three weeks late.
“It ruined peoples’ days, even weeks if they didn’t get a letter,” he said. “They would be depressed. It was terrible. I wrote so many letters. If I didn’t get one back I would wonder why that person couldn’t take ten minutes out of their day to write me a letter, when that’s all I had to look forward to.”
At the end of the nine weeks, those who had not dropped out graduated from basic training. “Both of my parents and my brother came down for graduation, and they told me they’ve never been more proud of me in my life,” Canada said.
Although Canada finished basic training, he will be returning next summer for the advanced individual training that will make him an infantry soldier.
“I would like to be deployed overseas after I graduate from Cabrini,” Canada said. “My ultimate goal is to become a major in the Special Forces. I owe it to the past soldiers to defend our country. I mean, they did it for me, why can’t I do it for them?"