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Setting Sights on Higher Education with Opportunities Provided by the U.S. Army Reserve

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From the very start, Daisy Aguilar-Gonzalez had her mind set on proving everybody wrong. When she joined the U.S. Army Reserve right out of high school, the first-generation Soldier knew there were people out there who didn’t think she was even going to complete Basic Training. They didn’t believe in her as she believed in herself.

“[I] pushed myself when things got tough,” Aguilar said. “I remembered my family values. Be passionate… [and] work hard. I came home and proved [to] them that I can do anything.”

Aguilar has always been a good student in school. Since the eighth grade, she’s been earning academic scholarships to help her pay for college. When she found out joining the U.S. Army Reserve would cover the cost of her higher education, she jumped at the opportunity. Although she loves her parents and admires them for their sacrifice in raising her and her younger brother, she didn’t see herself working in the fields, picking cherries like them.

“The only thing I saw in [my] mind was going to college,” she said. “I just wanted a better future for my family.”

With her mind set on the military to pay her way through college, Aguilar needed help maneuvering through the process. Not only would she be the first in her family to join the U.S. Army Reserve, but she would also be the first to attend college.

“I spoke to [my recruiter] and asked, ‘I want to go to college, but I also want to have a different career path. Can you help me do both?’” she said. “That’s where I learned about the Army Reserve and the various opportunities it had to offer, so I said, ‘Why not?’”

Currently, Aguilar is a student at her “dream school,” the University of Washington. She’s also working toward becoming an Officer in the Army. The Reserve provided her with the discipline she needed to stay on track both physically and mentally.

“NCOs and Officers are continuously checking up on me,” she noted. They know what my goal is, and they’re always helping me stay on top of that.” Still, not everything Aguilar is experiencing in college and as a Reserve Soldier is demanding. She still gets to have fun. She said her path allows her to have a college life. Daisy can go out with her friends on the weekends and visit her family whenever she wants. When she does go back home, she wants the younger generation to see her as an example of how to be successful but also “strive to be better.” It’s through her family where she finds strength.

“Whenever things are getting hard or difficult, I have [my family],” she said. “They remind me of why I’m doing this—and then I push on.”

U.S. Army Reserve
Part-time service. Full-time success.