Gracie Sperling hopes to inspire others to serve

Aug 8, 2018 by

Published in the August 8, 2018 edition

By DAN TOMASELLO

LYNNFIELD — Lynnfield High School Class of 2018 graduate Gracie Sperling wants to make a difference.

Helping influence peoples’ lives is why Sperling decided to enlist in the U.S. National Guard and enroll in Penn State University’s ROTC program after graduating from LHS in June.

“Both my grandfather and my uncle were in the military, which was a big factor in my enlistment,” said Sperling in an email sent to the Villager. “I always wanted to be a soldier to proudly wear my camouflage and defend our great nation. I want to be a part of something that holds so much honor and respect. I wanted to join the ROTC program at Penn State to continue my training throughout the school year, which will hopefully increase my chances of one day becoming an officer.”

Sperling was sent to Oklahoma for Basic Training for nine weeks in June. She will begin her Advanced Individual Training in Missouri for six weeks and three days on Sept. 4.

The enlistee said she will be working as a motor transportation operator (M88) for the Army National Guard.

LHS Class of 2018 graduate Gracie Sperling is congratulated by a National Guardsman recently. Sperling enlisted in the U.S. National Guard and will be enrolling in Penn State University’s ROTC program for the spring 2019 semester. (Courtesy Photo)

“I will learn to operate most if not all of the motor vehicles, and manage loading, unloading and the safety of personnel being transported,” said Sperling. “I’m not sure if I will be able to drive the tanks or not, but I certainly hope so because it’s something I have always dreamed of doing.”

After Sperling completes her training in November, she will enroll at Penn State for the 2019 spring semester. She will be involved in Penn State’s ROTC program.

“The ROTC program is a club,” said Sperling. “You do not have to be an enlisted soldier to join. However, if you enlist and complete your training like I am doing and then join the ROTC program, you not only receive more benefits but also become an officer by the time you graduate. The ROTC program consists of leadership courses and also physical training sessions, three times a week at 5 a.m., to prepare soldiers for the military. Some people join ROTC first and then after they graduate; they enlist and go to boot camp and AIT. It all depends on the person. ROTC is becoming more and more popular, and Penn State has one of the largest ROTC programs around. It was one of the major reasons why I chose Penn State for my college.”

Sperling noted her grandfather served in the U.S. Army, where he drove tanks. She said her uncle served as a medic in the Air Force.

“Both of them had a great influence on my decision to enlist because they are both great influential people in my life,” said Sperling. “When they tell stories about their experiences in war and through training, I am in awe. When I began my enlistment process, the Army National Guard offered me the best benefits and was the most accommodating for me, which is why I chose them. However, I can see myself joining the Army or Air Force after I serve my six years in the National Guard. I would like to follow in my uncle’s footsteps and become a medic, which is what I have always wanted to do since I was little.”

Sperling will be majoring in kinesiology at Penn State.

“From there, I hope to go to medical school and become a physician assistant,” said Sperling.

While attending LHS, Sperling suited up for the girls’ soccer and girls’ lacrosse teams, and competed with the girls’ indoor track team for two years. She said she was a tomboy while growing up, and always enjoyed climbing trees, playing with Legos and said she “hated wearing dresses and skirts.”

“I felt like I didn’t always fit in and I knew that there was something more for me out there,” said Sperling. “And one day, when my dad and I were driving on the highway, we passed an Army recruiting building. I made him stop and take me. From that day forward, my life was forever changed and the path to becoming a soldier began.”

While Sperling said she was nervous to leave her family, she said she is looking forward to “meeting new people and learning things that most people could never imagine.”

“Lynnfield will always be my home sweet home and I look forward to coming back,” said Sperling. “I hope my story inspires others.”

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