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Published May 12, 2011

All during high school, most everyone is focused on going to college. But some seniors choose a different route after they get their diplomas. Ashley Wiggins, left, a senior at Lakewood High, decided to enlist in the Air Force, serving in the military before enrolling in college. She has already taken the armed forces admissions exam once, and plans to take it again to improve her score (she's a good student, with a 3.6 GPA, but she says she needs to work on her math). She would be one of an estimated 30,000 enlisting with at least a high school diploma this year. She talked with tb-two* about her plans.

Why do you want to join?

I like technology and working with computers, and (being in the military) helps pay for further education.

Are you worried? Military personnel sometimes go into dangerous situations.

No, because I'm very aware of the things I'm going to be doing before I get myself into it.

What do you wish to accomplish by joining before getting a college degree?

I basically want to receive all the benefits you get from joining the military. They will pay for my education and when I get out, they will pay for living arrangements, medical insurance, etc. I will have a job; people with degrees are still not guaranteed a job after college.

What do your family and friends think?

They love the idea. It is a way for me to do something with my life. My boyfriend, Jaquartez Robinson, a junior at Lakewood, is going into the Marines (after high school). He told me the positive and negatives of joining the military.

How have you prepared for enlisting?

I went to see the recruiter to take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test.

After serving your minimum four years, where do you see yourself?

I am going to college for criminal justice or journalism, so whatever job that (prepares me for), I will go for it.