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    Wednesday, September 27, 2023

    For graduating military child, it’s time for her next move

    Three Rivers Middle College Magnet High School senior LeAnn Walker poses for a portrait at the school in Norwich on Tuesday, May 23, 2023. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
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    Norwich ― After relocating from her birthplace in Colorado to Florida, Kansas, Washington state, Greece, Texas, Kentucky and finally Groton, LeAnn Walker is on to her next move: college in Ohio. Well, that’s after she helps her family move to Oklahoma.

    A Three Rivers Middle College Magnet High School senior from a military family, she’s experienced an unusual variety of schooling types.

    That includes homeschooling, international school, an El Paso high school with 1,000 students per grade, a Department of Defense Education Activity school, online school, and then for just a year, a small magnet school that allows her to take college classes with students in different phases of life.

    “I’m always very open to telling people about my life,” Walker said. “It depends on how I tell it, because it can be a super exciting and adventurous story to tell, but it can also be a very sad one, because I’ve faced a lot of different struggles in my friendships.”

    She is headed to Cedarville University, a Christian school in Ohio, and intends to study exercise science and get a master of business administration degree. She wants to go into ROTC and get a job in the Army related to nutrition or wellness. Walker comes from an active family that enjoys biking, climbing and camping.

    Tying into her passion for health and wellness is her interest in the impacts of social media. She has gone between having Instagram on her phone and deleting it, and she deleted Snapchat, on which some people try to get a “Snapstreak” by sending a photo to a specific friend every day.

    “I saw this post that was like: When you’re 80 years old, what are you going to be doing with Snapstreaks? Are we still going to be keeping them?” Walker said. “That put it into perspective for me and I’m like, you see how stupid this is? We’re trying to get points on a social media account for nothing.”

    She’s scared for young children “growing up in a society that’s always glued to their phones” and wants “to try to help bring people back to: eat your food, be involved with people, go outside.”

    Walker said she has so many interests it was hard to decide what to study, and she gets excited talking about these interests.

    “I love talking, but people wouldn’t think that, because I’m a very reserved person,” Walker said.

    And she encourages others to talk about their interests. She recalled that a classmate in her public speaking class ― her favorite course ― was anxious about presenting. But she told him that in any room there’s bound to be someone interested.

    Making the best of wherever she goes

    Walker has moved around a lot for her father’s Army career. Stephen Walker, a field artillery officer, is in Connecticut for a fellowship at Pratt & Whitney and will next be commander of the 75th Field Artillery Brigade in Oklahoma.

    Walker said she’s gotten a lot of her work ethic from her father, whom she describes as “very humble, in the way that he presents himself.” And she gets her interest in both nutrition and psychology from her mom, Traci Walker.

    LeAnn Walker said people always ask her about her favorite place, but she has a different favorite thing about everywhere she’s lived.

    “I just adapt to wherever I go,” she said. “I know it’s not my decision to choose where my family moves, so I really just try to make the best of wherever we go, and I find a way to enjoy it either way. Some places take a bit longer for me to figure out if I like them or not, but choosing to get involved with sports and working has helped a lot.”

    She loved the dry, hot climate of Texas. A benefit of Kentucky was meeting her boyfriend, who also will be attending Cedarville. One of her favorite years was living on 80 acres in Kansas around age 6 or 7. And in Greece, she got to go to the beach a lot, travel to the islands, and eat great food, such as lamb gyros and fries with feta.

    She has played basketball, soccer, softball and volleyball over the years, but a lot of her time outside the classroom has been spent working.

    Walker recalled going to work at a Dunkin’ in Kentucky ― where she already knew people because her older brother worked there ― the day after she turned 16, and she worked about 30 hours a week to save up for her car. She still works at a Dunkin’ here in Connecticut.

    She also volunteers in the nursery at Groton Bible Chapel and said she has developed her faith a lot more in recent years.

    The experience of moving around a lot has made Walker proactive in communicating; she’s made sure to let managers know that she won’t be working there long-term, and to form connections with her teachers.

    Traci Walker said moving around a lot has made LeAnn good at managing her time, that if she chooses to, “she’s extremely efficient and organized about planning her time.”

    Stephen Walker said they teach their kids to be intentional about schedules and goals from a young age, but they make sure not to impose their wishes for the future.

    “I want our kids to be happy and passionate about what they want to do with their lives,” he said, and the “money and financial part will sort itself out.”

    This past year has been an adjustment for Walker without her older brother, 20, because he’s very social and she would join his friend groups. She also has a 15-year-old brother.

    “I used to be very cautious (about) making friends, because I knew I was going to move,” Walker said. “But now I want to meet a lot of people while I’m in a different location, so I can just make the most of my time.”


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