STORY BY KAMESHIA JERAE HODGE, FNN EDITOR, ALUMNI BUREAU
An avid writer and poet, FNN alumnus Chantell Leak had gone AWOL (Absent Without Leave) from Washington, D.C. We wondered where she was. Being the journalistic beasts we are, FNN hunted her down to have a few questions answered.
FNN: Chantell, where have you been for the last year or so?!
CL: I’ve been serving in the Navy lol, and I’m back now. That’s about it.
FNN: In the navy? Where do you go?
CL: Well, since joining the Navy, I have been to Illinois, Florida, Cali, Washington, Mississippi, Hawaii, Mexico, and Canada – most of those work related – but all were opportunities afforded to me by my military association.
FNN: Someone seems to have gotten around. Traveling sounds like you had such a great time. Did you miss your family at all?
CL: I did, lol. I stayed in contact with family through Facebook, email, Skype, and by phone… even snail mail at one point. The hardest part about keeping in touch with family was coordinating times to have important conversations. All of my family is on the east coast and I was stationed out west. With the time difference it was very complicated at first, but we all adjusted and it wasn’t a problem anymore.
FNN: Of course, people make time for things that are most important. Obviously you and your family hold each other in high esteem. Speaking of important people, has dating been a problem for you since you now have a chic new uniform?
CL: I think the military puts a strain on any type of relationship, but romantic ones really take a hit… especially if they are long distance. Mine, unfortunately, ended due to the demands of my job. I’ve seen so many relationships! The same stuff that happens between a couple in the civilian sector happens to military people, lol.
FNN: Life happens to everyone lol, even you all who risk your lives for us. What level are you?
CL: I’m an E3.
FNN: … and this means?
CL: An E3 is a Sea/Air/Firefighter. I left the Navy as an Aviation Ordnance Airman… it’s also called an AOAN.
FNN: What special skills did you learn?
CL: I plead the fifth! LOL!
FNN: Top secret info I see! Well, we don’t want to broach any military or Navy secrets, so we’ll just end with this: what advice would you give to any young adult who is considering joining the armed forces?
CL: My advice for anyone thinking about joining the military is to STOP and THINK! Do your research. Talk to people who were and are in the military – in different branches. Get different points of views, different perspectives, and once you think you’re ready to make a decision, STOP and THINK AGAIN!!! Make sure that it is something that you are ready to commit to. Make sure that it is something that you can live with. Make sure that you can put self aside for at least four years and commit to the demands of you job in all capacities.
FNN: So in a nutshell, it seems like this job is much more than what a lot of people understand. Army games like Modern Warfare 3 and Call of Duty sort of romanticize the severity of the trainings and emotional battles of being in these settings. Make sure that you are prepared to make a life changing commitment for quite a number of years – it certainly seems like our FNN alumnus, Chantell Leak, has.
Chantell Leak was a 2009 graduate of Friendship Collegiate Academy.
Kameisha Jerae Hodge was a 2007 graduate of Friendship Collegiate Academy, and 2012 graduate of Lafayette College.