For Warren High School senior Derrick Kettering, joining the Navy is a higher calling.
"I had a calling from God," Kettering said. "He told me ... 'I laid my life down for you; now go lay down yours.' And I took that as joining the military."
Kettering is already a member of the Navy through the delayed entry program, having been sworn in Aug. 17. He's one of several area seniors planning on serving their country after graduation in the week ahead.
Also in the delayed entry program is Kettering's friend and classmate in the medical college prep program at the Washington County Career Center, Marietta High School senior Kealy Parrish. At Kettering's request, she went to an interview with his recruiter and wound up signing up, too.
Parrish said she'd been thinking about joining the military as a way to pay for her schooling and to travel.
"In six months, I'll go to two states I've never even been to," she said. "And I'm going to get stationed all over the world."
Though they've been partners on numerous projects at the career center, Kettering and Parrish will take different paths in the Navy.
Kettering reports for boot camp in Great Lakes, Ill., in July, then will serve as an active reservist for one weekend a month and two weeks a year until he earns his bachelor's degree from Mount Vernon Nazarene University. He plans to major in political science then be commissioned as an officer and enter officer command school. Kettering wants to become a military policeman and eventually be a member of the Navy's Judge Advocate General's Corps.
Parrish will head to Great Lakes Aug. 1. She'll be an active member with plans to become a hospital corpsman and eventually earn a doctorate in nursing.
Both Parrish and Kettering said the wars in which America has been and still is involved didn't deter them from service.
"Actually it helped me," said Kettering, pointing to the service of Frontier High School graduate and Army Pfc. Kyle Hockenberry, gravely wounded in Afghanistan last year, and Washington, W.Va., resident and Navy SEAL Nicholas Null killed last year in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan, as inspiration.
"I want to be a member of that team," he said.
Waterford High School senior Trevor Lang will also be going to college and serving in the military as a member of the Ohio National Guard.
Lang will enter Muskingum University's engineering science program in the fall, pursuing an industrial technology degree. But first he'll go to basic training in Fort Jackson, S.C., and will serve one weekend a month and two weeks a year with a radar unit based in McConnelsville.
Lang said he doesn't plan on pursuing a military career but feels it's important to serve his country.
"I got the freedom to do what I can from people serving in the military," he said. "For me to give back and provide freedom for others, it's all worth it in the end."
A desire to serve is part of what drew Dart resident Marissa Rollins to the Air Force, along with a family history in the military and an interest in flying.
"You look around, you see a lot of people just focused on themselves ... what they want to do, not focusing on other people," said Rollins, who graduates next week from Frontier High School.
"I'm planning to go and be a mechanic, taking my college courses and getting my bachelor's degree," Rollins said. "After I get my bachelor's degree, I plan on applying to be a pilot."
But Rollins isn't sure yet whether she wants to make the military her career, which is why she plans to pursue a bachelor's degree in zoology through the Air Force, with an eye toward working in a zoo or helping reintroduce animals into the wild.
"I kind of want to do everything," she said.