Tristan Guzman always knew she wanted to jump planes and serve her country.
On May 24, she raised her right hand in the enlistment oath to become a U.S. Army Infantryman.
“My journey will begin on January 30, 2017,” Guzman said. “I’m very excited. I wish he could be closer. I hope I can wait that long, but to say I’m excited is an understatement.
Guzman, 18, is a recent graduate of Northern Heights High School and a resident of Allen.
While many other young women are preparing for more glamorous careers, Guzman is preparing for the biggest challenge of her life so far.
“I’m going to jump planes,” she said. “The thought is a bit scary. I’ve never done this before, but it looks fun. I hope that at 21, I will be in the special forces. That’s my goal and what I’m going to work towards. »
Upon enlisting, Guzman became the first woman in Kansas state history to enlist as an infantry soldier, according to the U.S. Army Recruiting Battalion Kansas City.
“I wanted to be in special forces since I was little,” she said. “At the time they weren’t allowing women in. Then I found out I could get closer to the special forces, so I thought, ‘Why not? I want to make a difference. I want to show everyone that I can do anything a man can do.
Guzman said she has always been inspired by her father, Korey Neighbours.
“My dad was always there for me,” she said. “He always told me that I could do whatever I wanted. He has been a huge help in all of this and a huge inspiration in my life.
The neighbors said that although he is extremely proud of his daughter’s decision to serve his country, the decision did not come without some unease.
“It kind of backfired and kicked me right now,” he said. “I couldn’t be prouder of her, but I’m scared for her. She’s always said she’s been in the military since she was 10. I think that’s something that she always had it in mind. I even tried to talk her out of it. I showed her what she could expect and she almost changed her mind at one point. In the end, I think that she always knew she would make this decision. A lot of people are already saying she shouldn’t be there, but she will prove them wrong.
Guzman’s mother, Viki Row, said her daughter has always been someone who, if you tell her she can’t do something, will do it just to prove others wrong.
“I’m happy and very proud of Tristan,” she said. “Not only is she my daughter, but she’s also my best friend. It’s hard because I’m going to lose my best friend for a while, but in the end I’m not going to lose her. I’m so happy for her and I know she will go far.
Guzman said she was excited about the U.S. Army Recruiting Battalion enrollment ceremony.
“The ceremony really surprised me,” she said. “They were arguing over who was going to swear me in. I received my first battalion medal at the ceremony and I was really surprised because I didn’t expect it. I didn’t think I was making a difference at the time, but it started to show. I chose what I wanted to do and I did it and now everyone is talking about it.
Dianne Bedner-Smith had the opportunity to meet Guzman at the Veterans Memorial event, held in Bushong on Memorial Day.
Bedner-Smith, who donated the land for the memorial, said she was impressed with Guzman’s decision to enlist.
“I wanted to cry just to meet Tristan,” she said. “She’s a lovely girl with a lot of passion for this country. Being a woman and wanting to serve is special. I didn’t know her before today and I loved meeting her. Her passion and desire for this country is She has her whole life ahead of her and wanting to serve this country is such a monumental thing.
Christina Lewers, 13, Guzman’s sister, said she was very proud of her sister’s decision.
“I didn’t think she would go this far after graduating from high school,” she said. “I’m so happy for her and I’m so proud of her. I will miss her. I hope she comes home.
Row said she has always been proud of her daughter and her passion for doing the right thing.
“I’m very proud of her and I encourage her to go as far as she wants,” she said. “The swearing-in ceremony was very emotional and very emotional.”
Guzman, who loves fishing, said January 2017 couldn’t come soon enough.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” she said. “I want to prove to everyone that I can do it. I know there are a lot of people who think I can’t do it, so that makes me want to do it even more. Knowing that I am fighting for our country and that it will help keep my family safe is what will keep me going. I want them to know that I care about them, just like I care about everyone and their freedom in this great country of ours.