PITTSBURG — Tiffany Allison may have started her life as a small town Kansas girl, but an enlistment in the Kansas National Guard soon changed all that.

Allison graduated from Cherryvale High School with her sights set on a degree in psychology, but she decided to enrich that goal by joining the guard.

Since her enlistment, Allison has received her basic training in Missouri, then her specialized Advanced Individual Training down south where she learned the basics of her military job — a masonry and carpentry specialist.

She most recently attended a tour of the Army's National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California. The training center is the Army's largest, located in the Mojave Desert.

“The soldiers selected for this tour received a unique, behind-the-scenes look at how the National Training Center training cadre utilize controlled explosives, smoke, noise and smells to create a demanding, realistic training environment for our troops,” Kansas Army National Guard Chief of Staff Col. Roger Murdock said in a release. “They got to experience the sights and sounds of a simulated marketplace that you'd find in many Middle Eastern nations.”

Murdock added that the tour offers soldiers a look at why their job is important.

“They also got to speak with support personnel and gain an understanding of how each of their jobs are vital in supporting the war fight,” said Murdock. “All in all, I believe it was a tremendous opportunity for these new Soldiers to gain perspective into the total Army experience.”

Allison was ready for that total experience, and she said really enjoyed it.

"It was ready fun," Allison said. "We got a tour of the training center and got to see how they do things."

The training center also provided her with some exposure to real life combat situations. She was able to experience how an IED — or improvised explosive device — sounds, among other combat training.

Allison said the middle eastern marketplace training was especially interesting to her considering her long term goals.

"They made a real effort to make the marketplace as real as possible,” she said. “I thought the difference in cultures was really interesting, and something I could use later. Watching myself and how others were impacted by the training was something I'll take with me.”

Allison is not alone in her family service to the military. Her older brother Mathew also serves in the guard.

"I really wanted to join after watching my brother,” Allison said. “It's just been something I wanted to do. Right now we are in the same unit so that's really nice, too."

The guard training schedule has been a busy one for Allison, having just finished her AIT training at the end of May. She said she has enjoyed the fast-paced nature of training.

"I really enjoy the training, even though it's been busy,” she said. “It's been a good experience and I've had a chance to learn a lot. I loved basic and AIT.”

Allison currently works in Pittsburg at Applebee's and is attending Pittsburg State University. She said she plans to continue her service in the guard and feels it's invaluable to her future.

"It's helped me see the world and the people in it a little differently,” she said.