Ashten Wells, or "Ash" as she is known to friends, will be a senior at Searsport District High School in the fall. She is a bright, energetic, outgoing teenager with a larger-than-life laugh. She is also incredibly focused on her future.

"I always knew what I wanted to do; I just didn't know the route I wanted to take to get there," Wells said of her ambition to work in the criminal justice field.

Wells enlisted in the Maine Army National Guard on Monday, July 30, and her first drill was scheduled for the following weekend. After completing her senior year, she "ships out" to Missouri July 2, 2019, for basic training — and she is ecstatic.

"It's going to be life-changing," she said in a recent interview.

After getting through three or four months of basic training, she is considering attending either Husson University or Thomas College but also said she wants to keep her "options open."

Husson has a great dual program in psychology and criminal justice, Wells said.

"It's a five-year program and you end up with a bachelor's degree in both," she said.

She explained her contract with the National Guard is for six years and by the time she finishes college, she will be close to fulfilling her obligation with the Guard.

Wells got a taste of basic training at the Maine State Junior Trooper Program at the Criminal Justice Academy in Vassalboro last June. She says it was like a three-day "boot camp," complete with marching and physical training.

The program was brought to her attention by Searsport Police Chief Richard LaHaye. Wells said she spends a lot of time at the Searsport Public Safety building as a junior firefighter; LaHaye noticed her interest in police work and encouraged her apply to the Junior Trooper program.

The program is open to any high school junior or senior who has a strong interest in learning about a career with the Maine State Police, and candidates are selected from a pool of submitted applications.

"It was a wonderful experience," Wells said. "Motivation is key — that's what I learned."

LaHaye said he was aware of Wells as a stellar athlete and also knows her parents, who both work in Searsport Public Safety capacities. Wells was around quite a bit, he said.

She began to ask questions about policing, LaHaye said, and he felt a responsibility to provide guidance to a career that is "evolving daily" and with amazing dynamics.

According to LaHaye, Wells took part in "ride-alongs" that really piqued her interested. Senior officers at the station also provided guidance and Wells was able to draw from their experiences.

In her previous year at school, Wells completed a psychology and sociology course, as well as participated in a mock trial class that competed against other schools. She is now looking forward to a crime course offered next semester that incorporates science with social studies.

Observation, deductive reasoning, collection and analysis of evidence, fingerprint analysis, DNA analysis, bone identification and using science to solve a case make up the science part of the class, she said.

Statistics, crime scene analysis, history of identification, privacy rights, rights of accused, historical cases, DNA in courts, analyzing famous cases in history, and teens and the law make up the social studies part.

Wells says sports have also played a big role in her life. She enjoys track, soccer, basketball and softball, and she also boxes.

"I love boxing. All the self-discipline that comes with it has really prepared me for my career in the military," she said.

She's been boxing for seven years, and has had seven fights. She lost her first fight to a split decision but ended up re-matching against the same opponent three years later — and that round she won. Her record stands at six wins and one loss.

In track and field, she won "the most improved track athlete of the year" award for improving her triple and long-jump distance by over 2 feet and broke the school record for triple-jump this year.

After taking an aptitude test at the National Guard, Wells said she qualified to be a military police officer. This position deals with crimes committed on military property and enforcing military laws and regulations, according the National Guard website.

Ideally, Wells would like to get through her military training, attend school, get through the police academy and then get some police force experience "under my belt" before she tries for her ultimate goal of working in the FBI.

LaHaye said he is "honored and proud" to have sponsored Wells, that she has the "utmost ability" and "the sky is the limit" for her.