Sergeant Spotlight


Lucy Aderholt, Editor-in-Chief

After graduating from Wheeling Park in 2015, Andrea Gump attended Kent State University to study broadcast journalism, but she had no idea where her life was going to go. Because she was paying out-of-state tuition, she had questions and worries looming over her; “I wondered is this debt worth it to me? It felt like this big dark cloud was weighing over my head and there was no light in sight.”

Not long after, Gump received an email from an Army National Guard recruiter on campus that told her she could earn 100% of her tuition free. Immediately after, “I ran down to the recruiting office…I stuck out my right hand and said my name is Andrea Gump and I want to join the army national guard, and a month later I enlisted.”

Gump faced a lot of people that doubted her ability to join the military because of her “girly” interests. She was homecoming queen at Wheeling Park and a member of the dance team, and people didn’t think it was possible for her to pursue a career in the military. “There were people that would come up to my mom in Krogers and say, ‘There’s no way she’s going to make it through basic training.’”

Now a Sergeant, Gump has not let those who doubted her stand in her way, “When I would hear stories about people doubting my ability to succeed or be great, it kind of just lit a fire underneath of me and pushed me to go one step further.”

Aside from the desire to prove others wrong, Gump shared her desire to prove herself right, that she was completely capable of achieving her goals, no matter how many people doubted her or stood in her way.

“They didn’t think it was possible for someone like me to shoot weapons and throw grenades, but here I am living my best life, I just have my nails done while I’m doing it.”

Completing basic training wasn’t simple, but Gump had her mind set on what she wanted. “Going to basic and really testing my limits and testing my own mental strength was such a great feeling at the end of it all,” Gump shared. She also explained how the purpose of basic training is to break you down and build you back up to be the strongest version of yourself possible, which is one of the toughest steps in becoming an officer.

Gump shared how basic training affected her, “I liked to sleep in, I liked Starbucks, I liked hanging out with my friends, and doing all those things, but when you go to basic training you’re stripped of all the things you love…and you really get down to the core of who you are.” She credits joining the military and going to basic training with really finding herself, “That’s where I truly found what was most important to me, my values, and who I wanted to be as a person. When you take out all of those outside influences and you’re forced to focus on yourself, it can do amazing things for you.”

While Gump has loved all of her 8 years in the Army National Guard, her favorite is what she is doing now at Wheeling Park, “I want to make a positive difference. I love being able to come into the school and talk to students with the hope of inspiring them, motivating them, and letting them know all the possibilities and opportunities each of the students here has.”

In her time at Wheeling Park this year, Sergeant Gump has helped many students enlist in the National Guard. According to Gump, it’ll all pay off, “When you graduate from basic training and you earn the title of soldier, there’s no other feeling like that.”