Standing Guard

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Some days he shows up for class 10 minutes early. And not just because, either.

There are reasons for these outbreaks of responsibility, and Tristan Wilson ‘18 is only too happy to lay them out for you.

One is his devotion to his major at Manchester University, elementary education with mild intervention -- a choice he made, he says, because it involves working with special needs and low-end academic kids, and he’s “always been drawn to helping people.”

Another is the discipline he learned from wrestling, a sport he excelled in at Carroll High School in Fort Wayne and which he continues to pursue for the Spartans in the 165-pound weight class.

And the other reason?

The other reason is his weekend job: Serving in the National Guard.

He joined the Guard last summer for much the same reason he chose his major – because it fulfilled an impulse to serve. It’s an impulse that dovetails neatly with Manchester’s charge to make an impact on the world around you, even if it’s not a path everyone chooses while trying to work his or her way through school.

It fits Tristan, however.

“Last summer I was just working and I felt like I’m young right now and I felt I wanted to help, I started looking around at different branches and it kind of came to me,” he says. “I also wanted to stay in school and keep up with my educational track. I thought the National Guard would be good for that.”

Not that it doesn’t keep him busy, Guard duty on the weekends and school during the week and wrestling on top of it.
“I’m tired,” he jokes.

“But it’s just something that had to get done,” he goes on. “In my mind you have to stay disciplined, you have to do what needs to be done.”

Both his Guard duty, and the dedication wrestling demands, have helped him do that. The two, he’s found, complement each other in the attributes they require (“The people who did sports in high school, they were usually the ones running in the front, they were the ones with best morale,” he says of his Guard training), which is why he finds himself showing up for class early these days.

“I’ve always been kind of disciplined, but joining the National Guard and doing all that training gave me a new experience and broadened my horizons,” says Wilson, who missed the first semester last year but came back in December so he could wrestle. “I’m a different person now than before I went. I’m much more responsible.

“And I’m happy I decided to wrestle. It’s trained me to be a better student.”

Just check that clock.

By Benjamin Smith