FORT CHAFFEE, Ark. -- When Spc. Samuel Alvarez was just 5 years old, his mother was deported and he was moved from his birthplace of Tulsa to his family's hometown in Guatemala. When he returned to the U.S. at 16, he had to leave the majority of his family behind. He has only been able to see them once since then when he was gifted a plane ticket for his high school graduation from his sister-in-law.

"Sometimes it sucks because you need help from your parents and you just don't have them," said Alvarez. "But it is what it is, you know? You gotta keep on moving."

Now, Alvarez has made a bonus family in the National Guard.

After being back in the U.S. and starting his first week of college at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Alvarez learned about the National Guard. He knew he wanted to be in the Army, but also wanted to go to school at the same time, which made the Guard a perfect fit. He soon enlisted as an automated logistical specialist with Alpha Company, 777th Aviation Support Battalion, 345th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 90th Troop Command, Oklahoma Army National Guard, based in Okmulgee, Oklahoma.

As he completes his first annual training, he is excited to get to work and practice new Army skills. The 777th ASB is training their Soldiers in a diverse range of scenarios during annual training at Fort Chaffee, Arkansas.

"I've been busy... I've been learning a lot," he said. "I like to learn and always try to find something to do."

Alvarez, a former competitive soccer player, and current CrossFit junkie is committed to making a future career in the Army by joining ROTC at the University of Oklahoma, becoming an officer, and making it as an Army Ranger.

"I think I can make it and I'm willing to put in the work," Alvarez said with determination. "If I don't make it, I would try again and keep trying."