While most kids his age are trying to find summer jobs, James Hollifield will be spending his summer vacation on a cruise ship.
The Lincolnton native and 2004 East Lincoln High School graduate has recently graduated from the Naval Academy Prep School in Newport, R.I. and will be reporting to the Coast Guard Academy in June in New London, Conn.
â€œIt gives me great pride to be part of something so many people want to be in,â€ said Hollifield.
Hollifield became interested in the Coast Guard after one of his football coaches recommended him for the program.
â€œI never considered the military until then,â€ said Hollifield.
He graduated fourth in his naval academy class of 250 with a 3.97 GPA.
An average day at the prep school includes morning classes, afternoon physical training and evening study hours.
In the military, intelligence is just as essential as physicality, Hollifield said.
â€œNo service academy would be anything without education,â€ he said.
Acceptance into the Coast Guard is highly selective, so those accepted take the privilege very seriously.
While at home, Hollifield continues to exercise to prepare for the Coast Guard Academy.
His daily workout includes running four miles a day with weight training and calisthenics, rain or shine.
â€œI love running in the rain,â€ he said.
In his last semester at the prep school, Hollifield was a platoon commander, which put him in charge of 50 other students.
For Hollifield, the draw of the Coast Guard was not to gain authority, but to do good job.
â€œI didnâ€™t sign up for the recognition,â€ said Hollifield. â€œI just do what I can.â€
One of the most rewarding experiences he has encountered since entering the Coast Guard is the appreciation he gets from others.
â€œPeople just love people in uniform,â€ said Hollifield. â€œPeople just come up to you on the street and say thank you.â€
The military also covers health, dental and life insurance for those who enlist.
Hollifield also gets to spend a week this summer cruising on the 295-foot ship, the EAGLE.
The EAGLE is a seagoing classroom designed to teach Coast Guard trainees.
Recruits go through a four-year training period before becoming a full-fledged cadet.
After graduation, Hollifield will serve in the Coast Guard for a minimum of five years.
Now that he has finished his first year training for the Coast Guard, he has no regrets about his chosen career path.
â€œThe military isnâ€™t for everyone, but if itâ€™s what you want to do, stay focused, because the rewards of a military life are unimaginable,â€ Hollifield said.
James Hollifield smiles for the camera at graduation. Contributed Photoby Mary Williams