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'I am up for that challenge': Three female high school graduates prepare for the military

Three University High School graduates are ready for military life, representing Central Texas and serving as examples of female empowerment.
Posted at 9:23 AM, May 29, 2024

WACO, Texas (KXXV) — Three University High School graduates have enlisted in the military: two in the Navy and one in the Marines, looking to change the national trend in recruiting for our country's military.

  • Valerie Garcia-Perez and Katherine Vidana are both going to the Navy.
  • Shelly Montes is going to the Marines.
  • They’ve decided to forgo the college route – in favor of the military route.


These three University High School graduates are about to embark on a new journey.

“It’s a good opportunity to set me up for the rest of my life,” Navy recruit Valerie Garcia-Perez said.

“I really want to see what’s out there instead of staying in one place like Waco,” Navy recruit Katherine Vidana said.

“Not only for a woman, but someone that’s getting out of high school they can join and do something with their life,” Marines recruit Shelly Montes said.

They’ve decided to forgo the college route – in favor of the military route.

What military branch are you going into?

“The Navy,” Garcia-Perez said.

“I’m going into the Navy,” Vidana said.

“I’m planning to join the Marines. I enlisted a couple of months ago, and I’m very excited,” Montes said.

Their choice puts them in the middle of a traditionally male-dominated field.

According to the U.S. Department of Defense’s 2022 demographics, with more than 1.3 million active duty members, men make 82 ½ percent of that; women, just 17 ½ percent.

“It shows that females can do the same thing that a man can do when it comes to military or work ethics. We’re both equal and can do the same thing that they can,” Vidana said.

“I’ve heard from several people that it will be tough around me because I am a woman, but it’s a challenge that I’m ready for,” Garcia-Perez said.

Challenging — especially for marine recruit Shelly Montes, as men make up 91 percent of this branch.

“I am up for that challenge. I’ve prayed about it, I’m preparing myself and now I’m seeing other females join and that motivates me. I can do it. Even though it’s very hard, it is possible,” Montes said.

Possible to stand out and stand up for their country.

“I’m going into STEM in the military, and that’s something I really wanted to do. We have something we can give back. Why not do something that we can to give back to our community and our nation?” Garcia-Perez said.

“We can show our patriotic ethics or how we feel by giving back to our community,” Vidana said.

“I want to protect the rights of people and fight. Joining the military, I hope it motivates young people,” Montes said.