OTTAWA (CUP) — When she isn’t pulling all-nighters in the library, browsing Facebook, or putting in hours at her part-time job, Jennifer Power is wearing a gas mask, jumping off towers and firing her rifle.
Power, 21, lives two different lives: one as a student at Carleton University and one as a member of the Canadian Forces.
One of 200 military students who are pursuing both an education and career in the nation’s capital, Power admits the balance has its ups and downs.
An aspiring lawyer, the second-year criminology student joined the military for the challenge and to reap the rewards that come with it.
?My tuition, books, and school supplies are all covered by the Canadian Forces,? said Power. ?I also receive a salary of $600.00 every two weeks.?
The price tag? Five years of service after she graduates.
It all started three years ago with a lengthy process of interviews, followed by aptitude and physical tests. Suddenly, the next portion of Power’s life was on a timeline.
?After I graduate from Carleton I’m going to become a second-lieutenant and I’ll be posted in Petawawa [one of Canada’s largest military bases].?
With the anticipation of the battlefield lingering, Power’s current priorities mirror those of a regular student: pulling off good grades.
The future officer is packing in six courses a year, working part-time as a server, and still keeping her marks on the school’s scholarship radar.
?I got an $8,000 scholarship last year, but because I’m in the military I was not allowed to accept it.?
Once her undergraduate degree is complete, Power plans to put her education on hold and pay her dues to her country.
After her five years of mandatory service in the Forces, she will be faced with an ultimatum: continuing a 25-year career with the military, or putting it behind her and joining the society she dedicated half of her life to protect.
?It’s going to be after my five years of service that I leave the military and go to law school,? said Power.
?But having your life planned out for you when You’re 21 is scary.?
Before, after or in between classes, Power hits the gym to prepare for her annual summer training?what her platoon refers to as boot camp.
A 10-week course in Fort St. Jean Sur Richelieu, Que., will see Power dedicate 18-hour training days to running, weight lifting, weaponry, and hand-to-hand combat.
Having already been around the block once, she said she has built up her pain tolerance and military knowledge, while acquiring her right to carry and fire a small arms assault rifle.
?The transition in the summer is difficult,? said Power. ?It’s like living two different lives.?
According to Power, the secrets to juggling a double life are to stay organized and focused while looking at her bigger picture?becoming a lawyer.
Her educational life doesn’t differ from the ideal view of the student experience.
Power is no stranger to Kraft Dinner, buses, roommates, and debt. But at the same time she said she wouldn’t want to have it any other way.
?I’m a normal student,? said Power. ?When I’m on campus I’m no different from anyone else.?
On the military front, Power is in her second year of training to become an armoured officer.
Currently training in the army, Power admits she is excited to serve her time and hopes she gets the chance to go overseas.
?Being a normal student and being in the military are two different worlds,? said Power. ?I just happen to live in both.?