(Editor’s note: This is the first installment in a new series that takes a look at how recent graduates (class of 2020) lives were turned upside down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.)
Life can be very chaotic at times.
One moment you could be thinking about all the things you are going to do with friends once school is done, then the next moment you’re finding out everything is getting closed or postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic — ruining the summer many hoped to have with friends before going off to college or even the military.
“There goes all my fun that I wanted to do before I left,” said recent Gunnison High School graduate Pascual Lerma, on what went through his mind when he found out about the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. “I wanted to travel, go to concerts, cities, just experience a lot with friends.”
This summer was going to be one to remember, since Lerma knew late in December that his summer was going to be cut short — when he enlisted into the Army.
“I just want to see myself going into a field where I feel happy and something I want to do. After thinking about it and considering everything about the military and what people have told me, it seems like it's the right thing for me to do.” said Lerma. “I'm definitely super excited about what I'm going to do and I’m really grateful.”
Lerma will head to Fort Benning, Georgia on Monday, July 6, however will leave Gunnison on Sunday, July, 5 to stay in a hotel before catching his flight the next morning.
“It's going to be way different than Gunnison,” said Lerma on going to Georgia. “I’ve had so many people tell me how hot and humid it’s going to be and I’m not ready for it. I'm excited to try something new though and get out of my comfort zone.”
Lerma started preparing for the military in the beginning of May, and tries to lift weights every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, with Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday being days where he does light workouts.
“At first I was lifting at home with some plates I had, and a homemade bar that I was using,” said Lerma. “Later on I started lifting with my friends ... trying to help them get stronger for their upcoming football season.”
While Lerma's original plans for those last days of school and his last summer home have been ravaged, he’s wasted no time trying to make lasting memories with friends and family.
“I started to take advantage of the extra time, because I knew I had limited time here. I wanted to do what I could while respecting the restrictions,” said Lerma. “Ever since graduation I have been hanging out with friends and family as much as I can, and making as many memories as possible. I've tried to stay busy too, by picking up side jobs and working out with friends Spencer Dickey and Braydon Duncan.”
Even though Lerma has been trying to take advantage of everyday, he noted “time has been flying by so fast.”
Lerma has a month and a day left to make as many memories as possible before he leaves — not knowing when he will see his friends and family again.
“I'll be in Georgia for nine weeks and 10 days,” said Lerma. “After I’m done with basic training I’ll go into field training. I’ll be learning about my field, which is infantry, for 22 weeks. I’ll have a little bit of time to come back, but I don't know if I will, since I don’t know how many days I will have until I get closer to that date.”
Lerma signed a three year contract, and at the moment is not sure if he will sign another contract at the end of this term — however, he said he wouldn’t be surprised if he did.
“While I’m serving I plan to go to college, going to major in either forensics or criminal justice, however I’m leaning more towards forensics.”
(Brandon Warr can be contacted at 970.641.1414 or firstname.lastname@example.org.)