Amber Suits has known since seventh grade what she'd do after graduation -- enlist in the U.S. Navy.
"After 9/11, I wanted to do something for my country, and I figured that would help," Suits said.
Suits, now a Moffat County High School senior, is ready for the challenges the Navy promises. She will graduate with her peers on May 26.
Suits will go through the Navy's basic training in Chicago, then will be stationed elsewhere.
She plans to either complete her four-year enlistment and then attend college or stay in the military for several years while taking online college courses.
She hopes to specialize in airography, or meteorology, in the Navy. In college, she wants to study sociology.
Her brother, Chris Suits, 20, is in the Navy, as well, where he serves as a mechanic. His enlistment encouraged Suits to join.
She chose the Navy over other branches for its offerings.
"The Navy has the best meteorology program," she said.
And while Suits is excited for the opportunities her service will offer, she is nervous to lose touch with her friends.
"I'm basically scared of leaving all these people behind and then coming back and them not really remembering who I am," Suits said.
But with her memories -- namely one from sixth grade when a busload of friends laughed so hard they squirted pop out of their noses -- to keep her company, Suits is sure to recall her time in the Yampa Valley.
Suits has spent the past two years at Moffat County after transferring from Hayden. She said the switch was a difficult one but one she's been happy with.
"The school's better here," Suits said. "I have more variety of classes I want."
Of those classes, Suits named French as her favorite.
"It's a cool language to learn," she said. "It's the main language of business in the world now."
In her time outside of class, Suits has enjoyed playing flute and piccolo in the band, singing in choir, cheerleading and running track and cross country.
She said she'll miss her time in extracurricular activities, but is anticipating the challenges ahead.
"I'm most excited about being able to leave the Yampa Valley ... and start fresh," Suits said.
Michelle Perry can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 213, or firstname.lastname@example.org.