While most high school seniors are dreaming of a summer break prior to starting college or full-time work, two members of Thomas More Prep-Marian’s graduating class are preparing to serve their country.
Trae Megaffin is preparing to begin the U.S. Army ROTC program at Kansas State University in the fall, and Thomas Lovewell will leave just a week after graduation for basic training. It’s unusual for the school to have multiple military-bound graduates in the same class.
“I always knew I wanted to do it,” Lovewell said of his decision to join the Army right after high school.
The Hays native already has enlisted and is “excited and nervous” to leave May 29 to begin basic training in South Carolina. He said it’s simply patriotism and military benefits that inspired him to make his choice.
TMP’s Class of 2018 will celebrate commencement at 2 p.m. today at the school’s Al Billinger Fieldhouse.
Megaffin also hopes to spend his career with the U.S. Army, but is taking a different path to get there. He has enrolled for the four-year Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program at K-State and will work toward a college degree in chemistry while undergoing military training.
Following completion of the program, he would receive commission as a second lieutenant in the Army. His ultimate goal is to complete medical school and work as an optometrist for the military, he said.
“The chemistry degree is sort of a stepping stone for that. Once I get my degree, I can apply for optometry school, which the military can also help pay for through a scholarship with them,” he said. “And I can serve as an optometrist for the Army and travel wherever they need me most.”
While Megaffin will live in the dorms and attend classes, his college experience will be a bit atypical. ROTC students undergo physical training three mornings a week and regular field exercises.
“I’ve been told that it doesn’t change your college experience that much, but it will be more rigorous and more disciplined than the average college student,” he said. “I’m very, very excited about it for sure.”
Both Megaffin and Lovewell said their grandfathers also served in the military, a factor that could have helped inspire their decisions.
“My grandfather was in the Army. He was a sergeant and served in Korea, so there’s sort of a history there,” Megaffin said. “I really respected him.”
But before they’re off to begin their military careers, both students are expecting a fun weekend celebrating their accomplishments with family and friends. Megaffin also will travel to Seneca on Monday for a high school golf tournament, which he said was a good way to cap off his senior year.
“There’s been a lot of good times and good memories with my friends and the community over the past four years,” he said. “It’s been a little bittersweet to leave, but I’m definitely ready to move on.”