COLTON - High school graduation, one could argue, signifies the first time that young men and women face an unclear path ahead of them.
During their senior year, many students are faced with the daunting task of selecting a college or seeking employment. A handful of students at local schools, including Colton-Pierrepont graduate Andrew Cochran, choose to volunteer to enter the military.
Mr. Cochran graduated from Colton-Pierrepont Central School on June 21 and will be leaving for Marine Boot Camp at Parris Island in Port Royal, S.C., on Sunday. Andrews mother and father, Terry and Kerry Cochran, are putting together a going away party on Saturday, but after that it will be a busy few days for the hopeful future marine.
Sunday afternoon my recruiter will be picking me up. Ill be going to a hotel in Albany, then Monday Ill go on a plane and from there Im not exactly sure. I know Ill be showing up at boot camp in South Carolina on Monday, but Im not sure what time. They show you around the first couple days and the next week is when it gets really hard, Mr. Cochran said.
I know my job will be a diesel mechanic and then I know its going to be hard physical training, but also more so the mental training of boot camp is whats going to be difficult. Also, the schooling will be different and Im not sure what to expect with that.
The camp runs for 12 weeks before a 10-day leave is granted to the attendees. After the break, they return for more grueling physical and mental work.
Mr. Cochran was a standout student during high school, consistently placing on the honor roll. Despite enjoying school, Mr. Cochran said he has known for a while that he did not want to go to college.
The main classes I took were English, math, science, etc. My side classes were technology, wood working and stuff like that, he said. The study halls I had helped me out a lot. Pretty much after school I had no homework so (schoolwork) didnt bother me. I liked school, but I dont think continuing after graduation is for me, he said.
On top of his accomplishments in the classroom, Mr. Cochran has also served his community well. Through parts of the last four years he has held three different jobs, often simultaneously and each of them involving different types of work.
He was very ambitious and liked to work. He had a good sense of responsibility, according to his mother. He worked three years at the Colton Diner (The Hide Away Cafe), worked for Eddie Boyce in South Colton, and hes done various odd jobs for members of community.
Mr. Cochran said work has been part of his life since he entered high school. Probably around ninth grade, when I turned 16 and got my license, is when I began working. I did some odd jobs for Ed Boyce, like mowing the lawn to working in his store, and another thing I did was plumbing, Mr. Cochran said.
Ms. Cochran is a teacher assistant at Colton-Pierrepont Central School, and his father is a corrections officer. She explained that even though she and her husband will be worrying constantly about their sons safety they also are extremely proud of him and want him to follow his dreams.
I support his decision, but I would prefer not something quite as dangerous. Hes always wanted to do this. Were both very proud of him. He did say hed like to make the Marine Corps his career, she said. Kerry feels the same way as me. Were both concerned for his well-being but also want him to follow his dreams.
A state trooper is what he wanted to be for a long time. There wasnt anything that he had done that indicated or influenced him. I have no idea what triggered his desire for the career. I know I will miss seeing him every day both at home and at school though.
The Cochran family has made their mark in numerous branches of the military but primarily through the Air Force, Army, and Navy. Ms. Cochrans father was in the Army and Kerrys father was a in the Navy.
Like any human being about to embark on a dangerous and out of the ordinary journey, Mr. Cochran says he will greatly miss his friends and family. However, he is confident and appears very eager to get this next chapter underway.
My friends Ill miss a lot. Ill miss the small town area, I like the cities but also like when theres not a lot of people around. Ill be missing Carrie Thomas, my girlfriend a lot too, he said. Im excited to go to Boot Camp though and am ready to go.