Growing Up as a Military Child: The Struggles of Connection

Growing up, moving was normal and something I expected pretty frequently. My Step-Dad was in the Army and every few years he would get stationed somewhere new, and we would have to move. Usually it wasn’t too far away from where I was before, but the summer before my freshman year of high school everything changed. I was told that my Step-Dad was stationed in Kaiserslautern, Germany and we would be moving to a new country in a few months. We had never thought we would be put anywhere overseas, especially with such short notice. 

Come senior year,  I’m ready to start applying to colleges and figure out my post-secondary plans. I soon realized that this year was going to be a very big struggle for me because I had no advisor or counselor to go to for help. Being in a different country caused a lot of disconnect from the States and it was very common for most seniors to graduate and take a gap year. This way, they could move back to the States and figure out what they wanted to do once they were back in America physically. I knew I didn’t want to take a gap year so having to do things like RDS, FAFSA, finding colleges that were a good fit/match without being able to tour them, and hundreds of other things were very difficult. I was expected to do everything on my own and it caused my mental health to start declining very rapidly. I lost all my confidence as I thought that if I could barely even finish a college application or find all the information needed for financial aid, there was no way I was going to make it through college. It was a very tiring and mentally draining few months as I navigated through everything, but eventually it all worked out and I got accepted to Appalachian State University!

This past May I graduated with a bachelors in Psychology, ready to find a job that would help change the lives of others. When I first heard of the Appalachian College Advising Corps I was shocked. I had no idea there are things like “College Advisors” and other programs throughout North Carolina schools that are there specifically to help students with college access. After learning about this job, I knew it was the perfect opportunity for me. I could help others where I needed the most help throughout my high school years and never received it. Senior year is already stressful enough just dealing with high school issues like making sure you graduate, which usually causes post-secondary education to be put on the back burner and forgotten about until the last minute. Being able to witness students gain confidence and relieve stress as I help them through the craziness of securing their post-secondary education plans is one of the best feelings I have ever experienced. 

I have had many students come to me not knowing what they want to do, thinking they can’t get into college, believing they won’t be able to get in-state tuition or afford college, and many other struggles that they have been able to overcome with my help. I will never forget how one of my student’s faces lit up after struggling with RDS for days and finally getting an “in-state” status. Students have told me I have changed their lives after showing them things like how scholarships and FAFSA can make college affordable for them. Another student with a very high GPA wanted to go straight into the workforce to work in construction, but had no idea there were many different degrees, such as construction management, that they could easily achieve. 

Overall, AppCAC has made a lasting impact on me that I will never forget. I did not know it was possible to be part of such an amazing program and work environment. The hospitality, drive and unity of  the Robbinsville community is something I had never experienced before and will cherish forever, as I know it is very rare to find. I am so lucky that the members of this program and the students and staff of Robbinsville High school have helped me grow into a more well rounded, confident, and ambitious woman that I will take with me wherever I go in life. 

Written by Hannah Thoman, adviser at Robbinsville High School.



Hannah Thoman, adviser at Robbinsville High School
Published: Feb 16, 2024 8:19am