Shannon Ihrke, 29, joined the Marine Corps when she was just 19. She dedicated four years to the service but has since begun down a different path. Ihrke is now an Instagram sensation with a fanbase of over 65,000 followers after trading her fatigues for a bikini and pursuing a career as a model, showcasing her athletic physique.
As reported by the Daily Mail, the Marine Corps veteran was happy being “one of the guys” during her time as an Administrative Specialist while on active duty in the military. She says her time in the service left her feeling “smarter, faster, and stronger.”
Ihrke stated, “I pushed my body harder than I could have ever imagined and I learned to remain calm and collected in the midst of chaos,” continuing, “I became part of something that was bigger than myself, and I loved it.”
She reached the rank of sergeant during her time in the Marines and attributes her experience with developing her work ethic, which helped her succeed in her new career.
“It gave me a reason to wake up, push myself, set goals, and to push myself even harder when things got tough,” said Ihrke.
“Had I not had other dreams I still wanted to accomplish in my life, I would have reenlisted without hesitation.” She added, “Although I am no longer on active duty, I will always bleed green.”
Discussing her experience as a model, Ihrke said, “In the modeling world, you have to push yourself to success because no one is going to do it for you, you have to go out and get it yourself.”
She also asserts that modeling has allowed her to feel “feminine and sexy,” something she didn’t experience much as a Marine.
“When I was in the Marine Corps, I very much felt like one of the guys. I did my best to blend in with the Marine around me, I didn’t want to stand out just because I was a female. I wanted to stand out because I was a stellar Marine.”
Ihrke has also seen success outside of Instagram and has posed for a variety of men’s magazines since starting her new career.