Shannon Ihrke’s life had not been easy. It’s easy to feel helpless when you’re a college student working two part-time jobs in the midst of a recession. She enlisted in the US Marine Corps in order to pay off her debt. People assumed she wouldn’t make it through boot camp based on her appearance. The assumptions only fueled her desire to disprove them! Before leaving the Marines, she successfully ascended the ranks and became “one of the guys.” Nobody could have predicted what was about to happen! Let’s start with the revelation that forever changed her life…
Just A Small Town Girl
Shannon Ihrke grew up in Walker, Minnesota, a small town in north-central Minnesota. She spent her childhood surrounded by nature, fishing, boating, hunting, and horseback riding. Such experiences have equipped her with abilities that few females possess. With her skill set, she was able to easily become “one of the guys.” She had no idea that these items would come in handy in the future!
Working Hard As A Student
She had a modest upbringing, but she knew it was time for a change once she graduated from high school. Ihrke chose to live close to the city by enrolling at St. Cloud University. When she was a student there, she pursued a marketing degree. She, like her peers, needed to make some money in order to stay afloat. She took on two jobs to make ends meet, but the pay was insufficient to cover her expenses.
The Future Seemed Very Bleak
It’s difficult enough to be a full-time student with one job, let alone two. It’s even more difficult when you don’t see any progress with your work. “[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. She had another option available to her. When she was challenged, she knew she was on the right track.
Her College Counselor Had A Suggestion
She sought advice from her college counselor because her future appeared to be so uncertain. What happened after she expressed her concerns about her debts and the recession? 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 lovely young lady, so people were taken aback when she showed up at the military recruitment fair. She didn’t look around like the rest of us! Something she told a Marine recruiter was what pushed her to pursue this career path.
The Recruiter Was Not Sure About Her
After taking a look at her, he basically told her she didn’t stand a chance. The Marine Corps boot camp, according to the recruiter, is more difficult 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 justified. What was her experience like when she finally arrived at boot camp?
Off To Attend Boot Camp
Shannon Ihrke enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and began boot camp in South Carolina. The young lady had received training in a number of areas, including rifle training and mixed martial arts. This went on for three months. The training turned out to be one of the most challenging experiences she had ever had. This is true not only in terms of the physical strain but also in terms of the mental toll.
Hard But Worth It
Even though it was difficult, she enjoyed the experience. She also discovered that she had more support than she had thought. 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 she found it easy to join the ranks of the men. It was wonderful that she felt empowered as a woman, but there were other roadblocks in her way. Some of the men, on the other hand, tried to make things difficult for her.
Working Twice As Hard
She told 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
She soon discovered that the mental toll could be even more difficult than the physical. When she finished boot camp and knew what she needed to do, she was given her first assignment. She gave her thoughts with the Daily Mail: “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. Ihrke began her career as an administrative specialist in South Carolina. She was dedicated to giving it her all and proving her critics wrong. Her go-getter attitude made the world her oyster. Her efforts were clearly rewarded because she was able to quickly advance through the ranks!
Not Too Far From Home
After some time, she was assigned to transfer to Rock Island, Illinois. She had to be grateful because it was closer to home. After all, one of the most difficult aspects of military life is spending so much time away from home. It implies that you will miss out on many family milestones. Ihrke always gave it her all at work, and she even accomplished something that most Marines don’t!
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 incredible to learn she’s a sharpshooter. This was something she had been working towards since she was a small child. She said during her Yahoo! Lifestyle interview, “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 it wasn’t out of the ordinary for her. She was doing well in the Maine Corps, but she had other interests outside of work.
Rising To The Rank Of Sergeant
She got the rank of sergeant by the year 2016. “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 told Yahoo! Lifestyle about it. She had been in the military for four years at the time. Her thoughts were elsewhere. For one thing, she was still aiming for a college diploma!
It Changed Her Life
She had no idea what she wanted to do with her life as a young woman. Enlisting in the Marines was the best decision she could have made. 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.” Despite this, she felt compelled to investigate her other options. Her next move had caught everyone off guard.
Launching A Modeling Career
She began dabbling in the modeling industry when she was promoted to sergeant. In the final months of her military service, she began doing photo shoots. She had to get clearance to do this on the side on the weekends because she was on active duty. According to her, this was something she had always wanted to try. She realized there was a future for her in the afterlife and decided to give it a try. She began to pursue it more seriously, but there was one thing she needed to do first.
A Magazine Cover
She decided to enter a Maxim magazine modeling contest on the spur of the moment. “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 was a hit with veterans, they raised their eyebrows at her “irregular salute.” She claimed it was because the photographers demanded 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
After four years in the military, she decided to pursue a career as a full-time model and received an honorable discharge. But first and foremost, she earned a marketing degree from Elmhurst College. The GI Bill allowed her to finish her college education debt-free, which was the main reason she enlisted. If it hadn’t, she probably wouldn’t have joined the Marines. For her, everything had come full circle. She began her career as a full-time model after graduating. All of this appealed to her, but one thing, in particular, piqued her interest.
Her Lucky Break
Ihrke kept going after a modeling job after a modeling job. She then entered Loop Rock Girl, Chicago’s biggest classic rock radio station’s annual competition. “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
As the Loop Rock Girl, she made a name for herself in the industry. She gained more fans as she appeared at events and posed for the cameras. She clarified, “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’re delighted to hear that her good looks are appreciated! She finally had the chance to explore this side of herself after spending so much time in the Marines. She informed G.I. Jobs. “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 how did she feel when she finally left the military after four years?
They Still Have Her Back
Despite the fact that she has changed careers since then, she still remembers her military friends fondly. They were taken aback when they learned that the person on Maxim’s cover was the same sergeant who had previously yelled at them. According to Ihrke, “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’s not like her new job is well-liked by everyone. Her parents were not pleased to see her participating in racy photoshoots. She explained, “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 realized it was past time for a change. After all, she didn’t want to have any regrets about not giving it a try! Regardless, she recognizes that her time as a Marine shaped her into the person she is today. This is something she will never forget. “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
She didn’t know what to say about her time in the Marine Corps. The best part of it for her was hanging out with the other Marines. They had become like family to me. “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 working out on a regular basis. Her military service aided her in pursuing a career as a model. When boot camp started, she imagined what it would be like. It physically pushed her harder than anything she’d ever experienced before. She now follows an exercise routine 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
Even though she has a strict workout routine to follow, she still knows how to live. Diets are not something she adheres to! Her only habit is to work out four 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 veteran, and we’re confident that the Marines will always hold a special place in her heart. She may be busy as a model, but she enjoys working with military charities to stay 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
Aside from her modeling gigs and working as Chicago’s Loop Rock Girl, she prefers to keep a low profile. She has since returned to her roots and now works as a full-time horse trainer. She also works with the “horse posse” of the sheriff’s department in her county. 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
From the outside, she appeared to have made a seamless transition from Marine to model. But it wasn’t quite that simple. She struggled to make her own decisions after becoming accustomed to being told what to do. 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 addressed the common misconception that young veterans returning to civilian life have no issues. This was not the case at all. In contrast, much of what happens after military service has advantages depending on you. She revealed during her interview with G.I. Jobs, “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 have been very different if she hadn’t served in the military. It was difficult at first, but she persevered and remembered why she was doing it. 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
Hundreds of competitors will be present at any track and field event. Allison Stokke was one of the many 2007 track and field athletes you’ll see at a meet. She worked as a part-time model in high school. This did not deter her from working hard to improve her pole vaulting abilities. As she did, she broke a lot of records. When a photographer took her picture, everything changed. After it was posted, the young woman quickly became a national sensation!
Meet Allison Stokke
Allison Stokke was born on March 22, 1989, in the United States. She grew up in California with her parents and brother. Since she was a child, she has been involved in sports. Her brother, David, excelled at gymnastics and even competed in competitions. Because of her success, her parents encouraged her to try gymnastics. She quickly realized it wasn’t for her after giving it a shot. She didn’t completely abandon sports; instead, she sought out something more suitable for her.
Her Calling In Life
Fortunately, she didn’t have to wait long to find a sport she was passionate about. She knew it was a sport for her as soon as she picked up the pole. Even better, she already knew she’d be a good fit for the job. She honed her skills right away and went on to become one of the most successful young pole vaulters in the country. By the age of 15, she had cleared 12.5 feet and had won the US title!
Her Freshman Records
In her freshman year, she worked hard to hone her skills and improve herself. It all worked out in the end! She was starting to set new records. All of this began after she improved her 12-foot, 6-inch jump to 12-foot, 8-inch. Aside from that, she was able to clear 13 feet and 5 inches in her freshman year. This is a full foot higher than the jump that won her the US title at the tender age of 15!
An Accomplished Senior
In her senior year, things got even busier! She had put in a lot of effort not only in her studies but also in her training. We’re ecstatic that she’s stuck with it since she realized it’s worthwhile. Slowly but steadily, she established herself as a nationally recognized pole vaulter. Stokke won each medal as soon as she joined the league. Aside from that, she set a new record in the same year. She was able to clear a whopping 13 feet and 6 inches!
The Infamous Photo
Everything appeared to be going well for her at the time. In 2007, something happened after a photographer snapped a photo of a pole vaulter at a competition. She was only 17 at the time. It depicted her as she awaited her turn. The photo eventually made its way onto the internet, where it was reposted on the blog “With Leather.” Its content frequently features young women, but the majority of its audience is male. As you might expect, this was a recipe for disaster. People on the internet couldn’t get enough of her…
An Internet Sensation
Worse, the blog had a shady reputation, to begin with. It didn’t help that she had a derogatory caption. They didn’t discuss the young woman’s actual abilities. We’re confident you can figure out what it’s saying. The photo had a negative impact on her life after it went viral on multiple platforms. When the photographer realized what was going on, he decided to take action. He spoke up and demanded that the photo be taken down, threatening to sue if they did not. This was admirable, but nothing truly vanishes on the internet.
Everyone Had A Crush On Her
While the first photos of Stokke circulated on the internet, people began creating fan sites and clubs dedicated to him. Who’d have guessed that something like this could happen after just one photo? But the strangest thing would be that they were posting more photos of her! People will remark on how she has since become their internet crush. The websites continued to expand in size. Stokke had spent the entire time caught in the middle of the media frenzy.
Gaining Global Traction
If you haven’t already discovered it, the internet is a powerful tool. People from all over the world began to talk about her soon after. She was given an international follow-up and a say in the process. Websites and blogs continued to publish articles about her but to a greater extent. She was even featured in the New York Times and the Washington Post! Her photographs have been shown on television in the United Kingdom and Germany. She was also a guest on a popular Australian talk show. She became a star regardless of how she felt.
Trying To Take Control
Stokke was irritated that she was focusing so intently on the problem. She spent years honing her craft, but people were only interested in her good looks. We’re sure it was exasperating to go through that. On top of that, she didn’t have any say in the matter. She realized after a while that taking matters into her own hands was the only option for her. She realized the internet’s immense power. It explained why she hired a manager to deal with all of her emails and phone calls.
Her Plan Did Not Work
There are times when putting out a fire only makes it worse. She worked to keep her name from spreading for the wrong reasons, but it all backfired on her. In order to help change the situation, the athlete set up an interview with a major news organization. It allowed her to talk exclusively about pole vaulting. She gave advice to other women in her field, but it didn’t help much. Many YouTube users praised her physique and beauty!
Help From Her Dad
It was difficult for her to control the situation on her own. Fortunately, her father was a lawyer who wished to keep her safe from harm and strangers. Stokke was annoyed by the unwanted attention, so he went on YouTube and flagged those who had made concerning comments on her videos. He wanted to see if they were saying anything that was against the law. Regrettably, this has done little to address the real issue.
An Attempt To Help Her
After all, it’s admirable to hear that she was trying to see the bright side of things. CBS wanted to use her viral photos and the story to warn young women. The story focused on how young female public figures with only one photo could find themselves in potentially dangerous situations. Because there is no requirement for consent, CBS has focused on how the internet and social media put them at risk. Stokke was disappointed that her abilities were overlooked because of her appearance.
Years Of Hard Work Wasted
She’s not the only one who’s going through it, unfortunately. If you’ve spent a lot of time honing your skills, you’d understand. People overlooked her talent because of her viral photos. She put in a lot of time and effort into training, breaking records, and establishing her name in the industry. Her pole vault accomplishments were suddenly irrelevant. By 2010, Google’s name search would yield a million results. The majority of them were uninvolved.