Julia Zhu: A Step into the Future

Julia Zhu participating in last year's Veteran's Day parade in New York City. The Naval Academy was included in the parade lineup.

Erik Dubbs, News Editor

On January 30th, Seniors of the United States Naval academy gathered for a ceremony that decided the next chapter of their lives. Among the attendees was Julia Zhu, graduate of Pine Grove Area High School, and current senior at the United States Naval Academy. Zhu would have to pick the naval base where she will be deployed for the next two years. Between the many options up for grabs, Zhu had her heart set on two choices: Pearl Harbor, Hawaii or Yokosuka, Japan. 

“We will be deciding where we will be at for the next 2-3 years. We are all ranked by our academic, physical, military, and social performance. We all go down the selection line by our ranks. The highest-ranked midshipman will go first and the lowest-ranked midshipman will go last. This might also be the only time where we have a say regarding where we want to go and who we want to be with in the Navy. However, there is no bad place to go to. I am sure that I will enjoy the Navy wherever I go.” Throughout the course of the livestream, Zhu advanced closer and closer to the front of the line. Both of her base options stayed open. 

Zhu decided to choose Yokosuka for her future. “I ultimately chose Japan because I want to be part of the “forward and deploy” force of our Navy. Their mission is to be the tip of the spare and to be the first responder to any situation in the Asia area, regardless if it’s North Korea trying to launch another missile at us, Russia making moves, or China trying to build islands in the middle of the sea. Again, while I am in the military, I want to do really military things. Regardless of how many years I serve, I want to make it count.”

“There are many reasons why I chose the military to start my career. I’m a first-generation Chinese immigrant who came to Pine Grove straight off of the plane at 14 in the summer of 2012. There are so many stereotypes and stigmas for first-generation immigrants, Chinese-Americans, and females in the military. I want to do something different and prove to others that we can do anything!” Zhu considered her future when joining the Navy for a crucial reason. “My parents cannot afford me to go to college. The military is one of the very few feasible ways for me to attend college. The Navy Academy was the best offer on the table.There are so many amazing people who have helped me along the way. I want to show them that I am worthy of their support and love.”

Zhu attended Pine Grove High School freshman through senior years. “I joined all the clubs, sports, and afterschool activities I can find. I had a wonderful four years at PGASD. I enjoyed my sports teams, all my clubs, all my classes, all my teachers, and all of my friends. The whole school gave me so much trust, support, and opportunities along the way. I would not have been who I am and where I’m at without PGASD.” 

However, overall, Zhu would like to thank a specific program in Pine Grove. “The Pine Grove JROTC program is the one that introduced me to the U.S military. I wouldn’t have even considered it if it wasn’t for JROTC. The unit is also the one that gave me nominations to the Naval Academy. I felt like a medium fish in a very small pond when I was in Pine Grove. Even though I was not the best, I had so many opportunities to lead and to shine. While I do think that Pine Grove can be more strict regarding academic disciplines, I also appreciate the freedoms I had to explore my other interests.”

Zhu will commission in May and attend graduate school until December.