A decorated cadet sharpshooter said goodbye to her second family last week.
After spending half her young life in the Canadian Forces' cadet program for youth, Vic West teen Alix Voorthuyzen presided over her final parade last week, days before turning 19 and graduating from the corps.
"It was bittersweet," she said. "It's kind of exciting I'm another year older, but kind of sad that I'm actually leaving cadets now."
Her time spent first with the Navy League of Canada and then as a cadet with 2289 5th (B.C.) Field Artillery Regiment, Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps at the Bay Street Armoury has been a life-changing experience.
"It opened a lot of doors," she said. "I know people all over Canada now. I know different shooting teams all over the world."
Voorthuyzen showed a talent for shooting at age seven, and honed her abilities through the navy league and cadet corps. It led to her earning a spot on Canada's national rifle team and the opportunity to compete internationally.
She is ranked 29th in the world out of all under-25 shooters.
The Esquimalt High graduate's shooting abilities, along with her volunteer efforts as an academic peer helper, helped her recently earn the prestigious Duke of Edinburgh's Award from Gov. Gen. David Johnston.
"Actually, she did set (the bar) and continues to set it pretty high," said Capt. Anthony Bone, the corps' commanding officer. "She's been fantastic and a great ambassador for the program."
Voorthuyzen's time in cadets has inspired her to pursue a career in the Canadian Forces. She is waiting to find out if she has been accepted to study chemistry and psychology at Royal Military College in Kingston, Ont.
"I've been set on it since Grade 9, Grade 10. As soon as I heard about it I was like, 'I want to go,'" said Voorthuyzen, who hopes to one day become an officer in the Canadian Army.
"I feel that there's a lot of respect in the military (and) there's a lot of comradeship," she said. "To me it just feels like (the military is) my second family, really. Cadets has been my second family for the longest time."