For Shannon Ihrke, life was not easy. When you are a college student holding down two part-time jobs in the middle of the recession, it is easy to feel helpless. She wanted to get out of her debt, so she ended up in the U.S Marine Corps. People assumed after taking a look at her that she would not even finish boot camp. The assumptions only made her work harder to prove them wrong! She climbed the ranks successfully and became one of the guys” before leaving the Marines. No one expected what was going to happen next! Let us first hear about the revelation that changed her life…
Just A Small Town Girl
Shannon Ihrke was raised in a small town in north-central Minnesota called Walker. She grew up around nature as a child and spent her time fishing, boating, hunting, and riding horseback. Such things have given her the skills not many girls have. It was quite easy for her to become “one of the guys” with her skill set. She had no idea that in the future, these things would be useful!
Working Hard As A Student
She had a modest upbringing, but once she graduated from high school, she knew it was time for a change. By enrolling at St. Cloud University, Ihrke decided to move close to the city. She pursued a marketing degree when she was a student there. Like her peers, to keep herself afloat, she wanted to earn some cash. To make ends meet, she took on two jobs, but the pay barely covered her bills.
The Future Seemed Very Bleak
A full-time student with one job is tough, let alone two. What makes it harder is when you feel your work isn’t going anywhere. “[My] manager at the clothing store where I was working had a law degree…. it was the recession – and I thought if she has a law degree and is working at a clothing store, there aren’t going to be any jobs for me when I graduate college,” she shared with Fox News. There was another option she could take. She knew this was her right path to take once someone challenged her.
Her College Counselor Had A Suggestion
The future looked so uncertain to her, so she spoke to her counselor at the college and asked for advice. After she explained her fears about her debts and the recession, what happened? Ihrke shared, “[The counselor] told me two people get college completely paid for – single moms and those in the military. I thought, well… [the first one] is out. But I thought about the military, and so I went to a recruiting fair.”
The Marine Corps Piqued Her Interest
“I decided to research the different branches [of the military], and a Marine Corps recruiter caught me on the way out from talking to an Air Force recruiter,” she informed Yahoo! Lifestyle. Shannon Ihrke was a pretty young woman, so people were surprised to see her at the military recruitment fair. She didn’t look there like most people! What really made her decide on this path was something that a Marine recruiter had heard from her.
The Recruiter Was Not Sure About Her
He basically told her after taking a look at her that she did not stand a chance. The recruiter said the Marine Corps boot camp was tougher than the other branches. “He explained how tough the program is and said, ‘A girl like you probably wouldn’t make it through boot camp in the Marine Corps.’ …I took that as a challenge and asked, ‘Where do I sign up?’” she shared with Yahoo! Lifestyle. The recruiters’ doubts were valid. When she finally got to boot camp, how did it go for her?
Off To Attend Boot Camp
Shannon Ihrke signed up for the U.S. Marine Corps and started a boot camp in South Carolina. The young woman was trained in a variety of fields, including rifle training and mixed martial arts. For three months, this went on. The training went on to be one of the hardest things she had ever encountered. This applies not only to the physical strain associated with it but also to the mental toll.
Hard But Worth It
She loved the experience even though it was hard. She also learned that her support was more than she originally assumed. When Fox News interviewed her, she said, “When I got back, I was just like, ‘I loved boot camp.’ I walked straight up to the recruiter and told him, and he goes, ‘Oh yeah, I knew you’d be fine.’ I was stunned, but he told me he knew I had an alpha personality and would do well.”
An Empowering Experience
The young woman sees the experience of her boot camp as something empowering.“I loved pushing myself; I realized how mentally and physically strong; I really am, and it was an empowering feeling… I had beautiful drill instructors, smart women. They were amazing – and it motivated me even more,” she explained. But that doesn’t mean it was easy for her to join the men’s ranks. It was great that she felt empowered as a woman, but other obstacles marked her way. Though, some of the men tried to give her some difficult time.
Working Twice As Hard
She shared with Yahoo! Lifestyle, “When people think of a Marine, they expect to see a man, but when I showed up to my unit, some people automatically thought that because I was a woman, I wouldn’t be able to keep up or be as good.” Ihrke continued, “So my goal was always to push myself to be as good if not better to show them you can be on the same level.”
Her Alpha Personality
Soon, she discovered that the mental toll could be even tougher than her physical counterpart. She got her first assignment once she was done with boot camp and knew what she needed to do. She shared with the Daily Mail her thoughts: “I came in guns blazing to show that I wasn’t someone that could be pushed around, brushed off, or not taken seriously. It was hard, but it was also completely necessary.”
Her Desire To Prove Them Wrong
“A lot of the Marines initially thought that I might not be able to keep up physically, or that I somehow wasn’t ‘as strong’ as them, so I made it my mission to prove them wrong,” she went on. As an administrative specialist posted in South Carolina, Ihrke got her start. She was committed to doing her best and proving all of her critics wrong. The world was her go-getter attitude oyster. Her efforts clearly paid off because she could go up the ranks in no time!
Not Too Far From Home
She was assigned to transfer to Rock Island, Illinois, after some time. It was closer to home, so she had to be thankful for that. One of the hardest things about military life, after all, is that you spend a great deal of time away from home. It means that within the family, you miss out on a lot of milestones. Ihrke made sure to do her best at work all the time and even accomplished something that most Marines don’t have!
She Climbed The Ladder
Two years later, she received a promotion because of her hard work. “I was meritoriously promoted from E1 to E4,” she informed Yahoo! Lifestyle. This meant that she worked her way up from private to the private first class to lance corporal in two years. In four years, many people don’t even do this. Her new position meant that, since she was assigned Inspector-Instructor duty, she had more leadership roles. Nonetheless, her work was not the only thing she was good at.
Many Skills Under Her Belt
It’s amazing to hear that she’s a sharpshooter. Ever since she was a little girl, this was something she had been working towards. During the Yahoo! Lifestyle interview, she said, “I always liked shooting guns. I grew up shooting guns with my dad, which is part of the reason I did so well in the rifle range when I was in the Marines.” She grew up in the Midwest, so that wasn’t all that unusual. In the Maine Corps, she was doing great, but she had other interests outside of her work.
Rising To The Rank Of Sergeant
By 2016, she had earned the rank of sergeant. “It’s kind of natural to judge a book by its cover… But then, it makes you want to be as good, if not better than those people, to show that you can keep up and you are equal,” Ihrke shared with Yahoo! Lifestyle. By then, she had been in the military for four years. Other things were on her mind. For one thing, she still had her eyes set on a degree from college!
It Changed Her Life
She did not know, as a young woman, what to do with her life. She knew that enlisting in the Marines was the best thing she could have done. Ihrke said to the Daily Mail, “Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference in the world. But, the Marines don’t have that problem.” She felt a desire to explore her other options, despite this. Her next move had taken everybody by surprise.
Launching A Modeling Career
When she reached sergeant rank, she began dipping her toes in the modeling industry. She began doing photo shoots in the last months of her military service. Since she was on active duty, she first had to get clearance to do this on the side on the weekends. This was something she had always wanted to try, according to her. She figured out that there was a future for her hereafter, giving it a shot. She started pursuing it more earnestly, but before fully committing to it, she had to do one thing.
A Magazine Cover
On a whim, by entering a Maxim magazine modeling contest, she decided to try her luck. “Maxim was having this contest called ‘Hometown Hotties,’ and I sent in my pictures. I never thought I would win… Once [I made] the final 10, they flew me out to Vegas for another shoot. And when they found out I was military, they said they wanted to do another special shoot with me,” she recounted the experience.
How To Salute
While her Maxim cover proved to be a hit among veterans, at her “irregular salute,” they raised their eyebrows. She said it had something to do with the photographers who wanted more than the proper salute. She told G.I. Jobs, “[The] Maxim team wanted me to do a salute but still make it flirty and fun at the same time. At first, I did a normal, correct salute, but it wasn’t working for them, so they asked me [to] change it up a bit.”
She Returned To School
She decided to be a full-time model after four years of military service and received an honorable discharge. Before anything else, however, she graduated from Elmhurst College in marketing. The GI Bill allowed her to complete her debt-free college education, the primary reason she enlisted. She probably wouldn’t have joined the Marines if it didn’t. Everything came full circle for her. Now a graduate, she began entering the full-time modeling industry. She enjoyed all this, but she liked one thing more than anything else.
Her Lucky Break
Ihrke continued to pursue a modeling gig after a modeling gig. Afterward, she joined Loop Rock Girl, an annual competition hosted by Chicago’s largest classic rock radio station. “I ended up winning the competition, and when it got close to my term being over, the station asked if instead of me being the ‘2013 Loop Rock Girl’ that I remain the Loop Rock Girl from here on out! I was able to turn a temporary gig into my permanent job!” she informed G.I. Jobs.
The Loop Rock Girl
She made a name for herself in the industry as the Loop Rock Girl. As she appeared at events and posed for the cameras, she went on to earn more fans. She explained, “Every year I make a new Loop Rock Girl calendar, model for lots of photoshoots, attend tons of radio station events, maintain my social media accounts as well as create a weekly blog, I talk on our station’s morning show regularly… It’s honestly the best job.”
Embracing Her Feminine Side
We are glad to hear that her good looks are being embraced! After spending so much time in the Marines, she finally had the opportunity to explore this part of her. She let G.I. Jobs know, “After being in the Marine Corps for four years and not really getting to dress up much, not wearing makeup, having your hair pulled back every day… it’s fun to feel glamorous and show another side of me.” But what was it like for her after four years there to actually leave the military?
They Still Have Her Back
She still thinks fondly of her friends from her military service while she has changed careers since then. They were shocked to hear that the individual on Maxim’s cover was the same sergeant who once yelled at them. Ihrke said, “Marines that I’ve worked within the past are asking me to sign calendars and magazines for them and their friends now, and that’s kind of weird but very cool at the same time because it shows how supportive they are!”
How Her Parents Reacted
It is not like everyone approves of her new job. Her parents weren’t happy to see her taking part in racy shoots. She said, “My family is a very Christian conservative family originally from a small town in Minnesota. When I started modeling, my mom said, ‘I don’t know about that.’ She wanted me to stay in the Marine Corps. They’re super-supportive now. My dad took pictures of himself holding a stack of the [Maxim] magazines.”
A New Direction In Life
She knew the time had come for a change. She didn’t want to have any regrets about not giving it a shot after all! Despite this, she knows that her time as a Marine has turned her into the person she is now. She will never forget this. “Had I not had other dreams I still wanted to accomplish in my life, I would have re-enlisted without hesitation… and although I am no longer on active duty, I will always bleed green,” Ihrke told New York Post.
Always Family To Her
What was she supposed to say about her time in the Marine Corps? For her, none other than the other Marines formed the best part of it. They were like family. “It’s a family in every sense of the word. You live together, eat together, work out together, hang out in your spare time together, fight with each other, and you’ll still do anything for each other whether you like each other or not,” she admitted to G.I. Jobs.
Training As Hard As Ever
She was no stranger to exercising regularly. When it comes to her career as a model, her military service helped her. When boot camp began, she thought about what it was like. It physically pushed her more than anything she had in the past. She has a routine of exercise now and rides horses. “I love running and working out – I’ve always been an athlete. If I’m not training horses, I’m at the gym,” she admitted.
No Diets For Her
She still knows how to live, even though she has a rigorous workout routine to follow. She does not, in fact, follow diets! The only thing she does is work out 4 times a week. She confessed during her Daily Mail interview, “My [favorite] foods include prime rib, bananas foster, French silk pie, and I’ve been known to crave a Big Mac or [two]! I do a lot of cooking and baking.”
Working With Military Charities
She’s a vet, and we’re sure the Marines will always have a special place in her heart. As a model, she might be busy, but she still likes working with military charities to remain true to her roots. “I’m still involved in several military charities and work closely with the Chicago Marine Corps Foundation, which supports giving scholarships to kids that have dads or moms that were wounded or passed away in the military.”
Horse Training On The Side
She prefers to live a lowkey life aside from her modeling gigs and working as Chicago’s Loop Rock Girl. Since then, she has gone back to her roots and is now a full-time horse trainer. Not only that, but she also works with her county sheriff’s department’s “horse posse.”She said, “I have about six horses right now, and I am training for roping competitions.” It’s also a fun way to remain fit for her modeling career!
Not As Easy As It Looks
It seemed from the outside that she had a seamless transition from Marine to model. It wasn’t quite that easy, though. After getting used to being told what to do, she found it hard to make her own decisions. Ihrke said, “The Marine Corps decided where I lived and for how long, how much I made, where I ate when to work out… Civilian life forces you to make your own decisions, and that was really hard for me.”
Do Not Get Discouraged
She also brought up the misconception that there were no problems with young veterans returning to civilian life. This was not at all the case. In contrast, it has advantages depending on you, much of what happens after military service. During her interview with G.I. Jobs, she revealed, “You have to put together a great resume, work your tail off, and let any rejection you might receive motivate you instead of discouraging you.”
Bigger Than Herself
Her life would not have been the same if it had not been for her service in the military. It might have been hard at first, but she worked hard and remembered who it was for. She said, “Some Marines fight for our politicians, but most do not. We fight for our families, our friends, and most of all – for our brothers and sisters to the left and right of us in uniform.” Next up, let’s hear the story of Allison Stokke, a pole vaulter!
A Hardworking Young Athlete
If you attend any track and field event, you will find hundreds of competitors. Allison Stokke was one of those 2007 athletes you’ll see at a track meet. She was a part-time high school model. However, this didn’t stop her from doing her best to work on her pole vaulter skills. She broke many records as she did. All changed when a photographer took her picture. The young woman soon became a national sensation once it was posted!
Meet Allison Stokke
Allison Stokke was born on 22 March 1989. She grew up with her parents and brother in California. Sports have been part of her life since she was little. David, her brother, was good at gymnastics and even competed in tournaments. Her parents also urged her to try gymnastics because of her success. Soon after she tried it, she learned that it wasn’t for her. She didn’t give up on sports completely and simply looked for something better for her.
Her Calling In Life
Fortunately, it didn’t take much time before she discovered a sport she was passionate about. She knew as soon as she picked up the pole that it was a sport for her. Even better, she knew she was going to be a good fit for it already. Right away, she honed her skills and became one of the nation’s most successful young pole vaulters. She cleared 12.5 feet by the age of 15 and won the U.S. title!
Her Freshman Records
She worked hard to hone her abilities and improve herself in her freshman year. It paid off in the end! She was beginning to break records. After improving her 12 feet and 6-inch jump by reaching 12 feet and 8 inches, all this started. Aside from that, in her freshman year, she was able to clear 13 feet and 5 inches. This is an entire foot higher than the jump that, at the tender age of 15, earned her the U.S. title!
An Accomplished Senior
Things got even busier in her senior year! Not only had she worked hard for her studies, but she also had a rigorous training schedule. We’re delighted that she’s been persevering since she knew it’s worth it. Slowly but surely, she became a nationwide recognized pole vaulter. As she joined the league, Stokke won each medal. Apart from that, she broke her own record the same year. She cleared an amazing 13 feet and 6 inches!
The Infamous Photo
It looked like everything at that time was going well for her. Something happened after a person took an athlete photo at a pole vault event in 2007. She was only 17 years old then. It showed her awaiting her turn. The photo eventually appeared on the internet, reposted on a blog called “With Leather.” Its content often involves young women, while the clientele is male. As you can imagine, this was a disaster recipe. Netizens couldn’t get enough of her…
An Internet Sensation
Even worse, the blog had a shady reputation. It didn’t help her having a demeaning caption. They didn’t talk about the actual talent of the young woman. We’re sure you can imagine what it’s saying. After going viral on multiple platforms, the photo left a negative mark on her life. He decided to act once the photographer learned what was going on. He spoke and asked them to remove the photo and threatened to sue otherwise. This might have been admirable, but nothing really goes away online.
Everyone Had A Crush On Her
People began making fan sites and clubs dedicated to Stokke while making the first photo rounds on the internet. Who would have thought that after just one photo, such a thing would happen? But the strangest thing would be that they were posting more photos of her! People will comment on how she has become their internet crush since then. The websites kept growing bigger and bigger. Stokke had been the one caught in the middle of the media frenzy the whole time.
Gaining Global Traction
The internet is a potent tool if you have not yet discovered it. Soon enough, people abroad talked about her. She got an international follow-up and had a say in it. The websites and blogs continued to post on her but to a greater extent. The New York Times and the Washington Post even posted about her! Her images have been broadcast in the United Kingdom and Germany. She was also featured in a popular talk show in Australia. No matter what she felt, she became a star.
Trying To Take Control
Stokke was bothered that she was paying so much attention to what was wrong. She honed her craft for years on end, but people only paid attention to her good looks. We are sure that it was infuriating going through that. She didn’t have any say, on top of that, about it all. After a while, she knew that taking things into her own hands was the only thing to do for her. She realized just how powerful the internet was. It explained why she hired a manager to handle all the emails she received and calls.
Her Plan Did Not Work
There are times when you douse a fire only to spread it further. For the wrong reasons, she worked on preventing her name from making rounds, but it all fired back on her. Hoping to help shift the situation, the athlete arranged an interview with a big media outlet. It allowed her to discuss pole vaulting and nothing else. She gave other women in their field tips, but this didn’t do much about it. Many YouTube users talked about her physique and beauty!
Help From Her Dad
It was difficult for her on her own to get a handle on the situation. Fortunately, her father was a lawyer who wanted to keep danger and strangers away from her. The unwanted attention did not please Stokke, so he took it upon himself to go on YouTube and to mark those who left worrying comments on her videos. He wanted to see whether they were saying anything illegal. Unfortunately, this has not really helped to curb the real problem.
An Attempt To Help Her
It’s admirable to hear, after all, that she was trying to look at the bright side of things. CBS wanted to use the story with her viral photos to warn young women. The story discussed how young female public figures with only one photo could land in worrying situations. There is no need for consent, so CBS has drawn attention to how the internet and social media put them at risk. Stokke was sad that for her looks, people ignored her talents.
Years Of Hard Work Wasted
Unfortunately, she’s not the only individual going through it. You’d also understand if you’ve spent a lot of time working on your talents. Her viral pictures made people ignore her talent. She spent a lot of training, beating her records, and making her name in the industry. Suddenly, her pole vault accomplishments didn’t matter. Google’s name search would lead to a million results by 2010. Most of them had nothing to do with it.