Kaila Harward of Lazear became a United States Marine on May 5.
She graduated in the top 10 percent of her series and was meritoriously promoted to private first class the same day.
As a candidate for military service, Kaila had scored high on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) in her qualification for enlistment.
She completed basic training at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot -- Parris Island, S.C. In operation since 1891, it is the oldest operational recruit training base in the U.S., turning out 18,000 graduates annually and hosting 120,000 visitors a year.
Harward was born in Grand Junction, Colo. She attended Caprock Academy and Grand Junction High School, and graduated from Hotchkiss High School last December.
She played volleyball for the school, and was captain of the cheer team in its first-ever placement in the top four at the state spirit competition in Denver for two years in a row.
Harward has always wanted to serve her country. "I joined the Marines for several reasons," she said.
"I always looked up to the military, inspired by my extremely patriotic father," she said. "Ever since I was five, I wanted to make him and my family proud."
"I'm stubborn, so I wanted the best of the best in the armed forces," she continued. "I wanted to prove to myself that I'm worth every bit of what a Marine is and that I could do it, that I'm strong enough for anything."
Since her experience at basic training, she stated, "I've learned the most important thing to me is that kindness is not weakness."
Harward is in combat training at Camp Geiger, home of the Marine Corps School of Infantry near Jacksonville, N.C. New Marines are instructed there on infantry tactics in connection with expeditionary combat operations.
She will then transfer to Pensacola, Fla., for 18 months of training in aviation electronics as her military occupational specialty.
Kaila is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She is the daughter of Darren and Nancy Harward of Lazear.