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Switching from Guard to UI

BY LUCY TRANKINA | AUGUST 29, 2011 7:20 AM

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As Mike Considine sat in a tank top and sunglasses, calmly peeling an orange at the Bread Garden Market and talking about the past year of his life, it's not readily apparent where the University of Iowa freshman was one year ago.

The 19-year-old spent his last year enduring basic training camp in the National Guard.

The Sioux City native joined the base in his hometown when he was a senior in high school. Only 60-70 high-school students a year are accepted into the program.

After being accepted, he decided to take a year off between high school and college. He spent August 2010 to April 2011 at basic training in Texas.

But though he wasn't in classes, he said, he learned discipline and earned college credit.

His commanding officer, Lt. Col. Stephanie Samenus, said Considine displayed several admirable qualities.

"Mike always does his best," she said. "He always volunteers for everything. He is very responsible."

After devoting a year of his life to serving in the armed forces, Considine decided to start college at the UI.

College life and the National Guard may seem different, but Considine said the two lifestyles overlap more than many would think.

Ultimately, the expectations are the same.

"You're always expected to succeed," he said. "You don't think you can go as far until you try."

He said being both a college student and being in the armed forces are excellent learning experiences. Both environments "push you down and then build you back up," he said.

He also said that working both alone and with others are important skills people learn in school and in the military.

It's essential to take care of yourself, he said, but you also have to learn how to contribute to society —balancing being part of a team and your own unit.

Fellow Air National Guard member Jacob Christiansen said he also knows what it's like to switch gears and attend college after being part of the Guard. Christiansen said he thinks Considine will fare well in school.

Though he may pull a few all-nighters for classes, Considine said, lack of sleep is unavoidable in both lifestyles. He said he learned to fill his day with as much as possible, whether that be classes or drill routines. And the time commitment is worth it, he said.

"When you find something you want to do with the rest of your life, it's hard [to be in school]," he said. "Class is at the back of your mind."

For all the similarities between his time in the military and his time on campus, Considine said, he's noticed several differences between the classroom and base camp.

After dealing with drill sergeants, he said, "professors are less intimidating,"

Therefore, at least for now, college is a bit calmer, he said, and there is more down time between classes and on the weekends.

He joked that he hasn't yet had to revert to his old tactic to relieve stress while in the National Guard —folding T-shirts.

Considine has around 30 credits from his time in the military, and he is studying business. However, he plans to go back to the military, hoping to be a pilot after graduation.


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