In service to one’s identity

Photo Courtesy of Ella Lavacchi
Located furthest on the left in this image, Lavacchi poses with her squadron after completing some rigorous physical activity.

Dana Balmas, Assistant Editor in Chief

Respect. Integrity. Motivation. Responsibility. Honor. These are all terms used to describe an individual who society usually deems worthy of admiration. These are the basis for how a person’s identity is built. Though identity is just a four-syllable word, it means something different for every person out there. For the guy who sits on the streets of Chicago everyday drumming his bucket, his identity is ultimately based on far more than we can see. 

Identity, for some individuals, lies in having a greater purpose in life. Military service is one of the many examples of how identity could be shaped by a greater aspiration. It all comes down to having something to fight for and a reason to keep doing it. While it requires less effort for society to turn the other cheek and render all soldiers faceless and nameless, these are all people who still have family, friends and inside jokes like everyone else. The identity of someone who chooses to fight for a cause greater than themselves is far deeper than just the image of the soldier on the outside. 

Ella Lavacchi, Neuqua Valley senior, defines herself through her future aspiration to serve our country. As a P.E. leader, senior advisor and an older sister, Lavacchi has found various ways to display her leadership skills. She has dreams of one day attending either the Air Force or Naval Academy. For these military school institutions, it is required that for every year spent there, a student must also dedicate their time in military service for an equal number of years. According to the official Air Force Academy admissions website, the system works so that when free education, boarding and food is provided, the students pay it forward later with their service to the country. Lavacchi has worked tirelessly for this dream since eighth grade and is extremely grateful for “how [her] hard work has paid off after all this time”. This past summer Lavacchi attended the Naval Academy Summer Seminar, which allowed her to go on campus for a week as a full-time cadet. She explained, “This required [her] to maintain the strict schedules for eating and sleeping, as well as pass the physical test that was given to [her].” She learned that “Once [she] start[s] something, [she] can get through it a lot quicker” but the most difficult part for her is “to get that first step in.” In the end she discovered that she “takes time to do what [she] needs to do, and gets down to business.” From this entire process, her inner drive was displayed.

Though the process of applications was long and difficult, requiring congressional nominations and intimidating interviews, Lavacchi worked through all that to discover new things about her true motivation and work ethic. She described “I feel I already had the characteristics of the students who attend these academies because I have always been super selfless and just, you know, wanting to serve others and be able to protect and lead others.” She has realized that she can “definitely push through limits now because [people] have a certain breaking point and then [people] don’t just stop there. Once [people] get there, [they] can keep going through that, [they] just gotta allow [themselves] to do that.” 

Though Lavacchi has attended the Naval Academy Summer Seminar program, she is still awaiting the news from her acceptance into the actual school. Ultimately, she agrees that her decision to attend a military academy and the work that went into that decision bolstered how she defines her identity.