This 20-year-old could do this or do that, but there’s also a chance, too, that Andrea Walton could return to her hometown after earning a pair of degrees at Kent State University.

“Could” is better than never, of course, but that decision has yet to be made because it depends on, obviously, opportunity. Walton is majoring in broadcast journalism and paralegal studies, and she is also a member of the Army National Guard. At Kent State, Walton serves as a Resident Assistant and as president of the Alpha XI Delta sorority, and she also is an on-air host for the Portage County News Station TV2.

Walton keeps busy.

“So, I could go the law route, or I could follow my dreams and stick with journalism. It’s something I’ve wanted to do since I was pretty young,” the 2015 graduate of Wheeling Park High School explained. “I might be able to graduate in the spring, so I do have decisions to make. I also have the option of doing journalism for the Army National Guard, too.

“If I get the chance to do that overseas, it would be difficult for me to turn that down,” she admitted. “I just see that as an amazing opportunity, and it would involve reporting on things I’ve never experienced before in my life.”

Her mother, though, would prefer for her daughter to be a bit closer to home.

Walton, with her sister Adrianna and mother Erica, joined the Army National Guard in January 2016.

“I have mixed feelings about that possibility, and to be honest, it depends on what day you ask me about it because I really do go back and forth on it,” Erica Siegwart said. “The line of work with the military that she seems to want to do is a little scary to me, but I do trust her. She’s always been very independent, and she does make good decisions despite her age.

“If there is a way she can come home at the beginning of her career, I would absolutely love that, but knowing how driven she is, I’m not sure she would be back in the Wheeling area for very long,” she continued. “Those decisions have yet to be made, though, and I know she’s going to chase what she wishes to chase.”

Siegwart, in fact, was not a fan of her daughter’s decision to join the Army National Guard at the beginning of her second semester because of the dangers involved with deployments. She never brought up the topic and was pleased Walton seemed to allow the idea to fade, but then her daughter received an email out of the blue.

“Honestly, it was a little scary for me,” Siegwart said. “But then she told me that she needed more purpose in her life, and I understood that. When she needed her birth certificate and other documents, I took them to her, but I did cry the whole way there.

A member of the Class of 2015 at Wheeling Park High School, Walton prefers broadcast journalism and hopes to get an opportunity in the Wheeling area following her commencement.

“But then, after seeing how she was doing in the military, it made me feel sorry that I was too old to join myself,” she continued. “I saw her confidence, the organization skills, and the commitment, and I liked that very much. I’ve been very impressed, but it’s still a little scary to me, especially since she’s been notified that her unit may be deployed in 2019.”

Walton is on track to complete both degrees in a semester or two, depending on class availability, and she plans to remain a military member, too. She insisted she’s open to all options and realizes there’s a professional ladder to climb with the journalism industry.

“One thing I know for sure is that my career has to start somewhere, and I would love to begin here at home. It’s about opportunity,” Walton admitted. “If I can get an opportunity at one of the television stations in this area, I would jump at the chance because I would love to report on what’s taking place in the Wheeling area right now.

“My mother, sister, and I have also talked about relocating to a beach area because all three of us really love the beach,” she said. “I know that it can’t happen immediately after college because I really do need to establish myself first. But if it’s possible in the future, that’s a decision we’ll have to make.”

Although her mother was not a fan of her decision to enlist in the military, Walton has thoroughly enjoyed her experience thus far.

Siegwart, a 1994 graduate of West Liberty University, raised two daughters, and her oldest, 27-year-old Adrianna, has one degree from West Liberty and will become a registered nurse in the spring at Reynolds Memorial Hospital.

So, she has one child near home and will refrain from attempting to convince her youngest to do the same, but Siegwart believes there’s a chance.

Why?

Because, as most Wheeling natives have realized, there’s that draw the Friendly City possesses, and Andrea Walton admitted it.

“No matter what happens, I know that I want to someday own the house that I was raised in because Wheeling will always be my home, and I will always want to come back here,” she said. “When you are raised here, there is something that pulls you back. It’s tough to explain, but Wheeling is a very special place and that is why I always come home when I can. I love to be with my mom and my sister, but it’s more than that.

“This is home, and it always has been and always will be,” Walton added. “I know my other friends who have moved away want to come back someday, and they keep a close eye on the progress that’s taking place here now. Most of them are just waiting for the opportunity, and a lot of them have already sent companies their resumes.”

(Photos provided by Andrea Walton)



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