Armed with a management degree from Georgia Tech, Evan Wimpey wasn't ready to stay in Atlanta and find a typical 9-5 job.
His interest was in something more exciting, so his applications for marketing and management positions were limited to specific, exciting openings --like working on a cruise ship or traveling extensively. Roughly a year after graduation, he discovered an appropriate, and more adventurous, career calling than one in his college field.
The 2004 North Gwinnett grad stopped by a military recruiting office out of curiosity. He wasn't sure which armed forces branch interested him, or if a military path was even an option.
"I had ideas (about the military) in high school and college, but they never seemed realistic," Wimpey said. "After I started applying for jobs in my field, I visited an officer recruiting station and that's how it started."
Recruiters from the military branches typically began their pitch with what they offered in terms of money and bonus packages. Meanwhile, the Marines opened with a different, more appealing offer.
"They just asked me, 'Do you want to come work out with us?'" Wimpey said.
The intense workouts were a lure to Wimpey, a former cross country and track runner at North. Though he didn't run for Tech, he stayed in shape. He still enjoyed the hard work and discipline it took to be a competitive runner, a drive he demonstrated by running the last year's Boston Marathon.
By the fall of 2009, Wimpey decided to be a Marine.
"My dad was excited from the very beginning and my mom was hesitant at first, as moms tend to be," said Wimpey, the only child of Kim, a longtime soccer and cross country coach at North, and Donna Wimpey, a nurse. "My mom wasn't against it, she was just hesitant. But she turned pretty quickly. The more she looked at it, the more excited she was for me."
Wimpey even got to spend some more time at home before his journey began while he waited for an open spot in officer candidate school.
He was a substitute teacher and coach at North from 2008-10, helping the girls cross country and girls soccer teams to state championships alongside his father. After working on a master's degree in economics at East Carolina in 2010-11, he was a long-term substitute at Parkview in 2011-12.
During the summer of 2011, he finished the 10-week Marines officer training school (ranking seventh out of 650 in his class) and finished his master's degree this past December. With those behind him, the 26-year-old was commissioned into the Marines in April as a second lieutenant.
He reported slightly more than a week ago for active duty and training at Marines Corps Base Quantico in Virginia. He will be there for six months before traveling to Pensacola, Fla., for flight training.
"I didn't enter with a plan to fly, not at all," Wimpey said. "I pursued the Marines and then discovered flight. Flight had an appeal to me because of the excitement and the challenge.
Flying sounds pretty appealing. Much more so than a typical desk job.
"As far as what platform I'd like to fly, it changes every day," Wimpey said. "As long as I get my wings, as long as I get in the air, I'm happy."
Will Hammock can be reached via email at email@example.com. His column appears on Thursdays. For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/willhammock. For Hammock's blog, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/willsworld.