Mee-Ja Sula's life has come full circle like the yin-yang.
The 28-year old Army captain, Port Angeles High School graduate and former Sequim resident is stationed at Yongsan Army Garrison, in Seoul, South Korea, where she was born.
Sequim residents Monte Sula and Karen Sisk adopted her at age 3 from a Catholic orphanage.
However, "she wasn't very pretty," Sisk said.
A cooking accident, she and her adopted parents guess at the age of 1 or 11/2, left her missing much of her scalp and left ear and with severe burn marks from cooking oil.
"I thought for years my burn was from a house fire," she said.
Sula learned early in her school years about the stop, drop and roll technique and attributed her burns to not doing it when on fire. Later in life, she asked her parents about the incident.
"When I found out, it closed the door on me thinking about it," she said.
Throughout her childhood, Sula received skin grafts and reconstructive scalp surgery.
She briefly mentioned the idea of reconstructive ear surgery to her mother but seemed at peace with her looks.
"Twenty-five years is a long time to be used to it," she said.
Following her dream
She dreamed of becoming a veterinarian since she was a little girl.
Following graduation in 2003 from Whitman College in Walla Walla, she graduated from New York's Cornell University in 2007 with a veterinary pathology degree.
To keep her dream affordable, Sula joined the Army Reserves in 2005 for scholarship money.
"Her grandmother was scared she'd have her head shaved and carry a backpack," Sisk said.
"I always thought it'd be my son (Max) to go, not her."
Initially, Sula wasn't accepted into the Army's school program but she started vet school anyway.
An opening allowed her to join shortly after entering school.
"It was rash, but where I'm at now, I have no regrets," she said.
Sula requested that her first assignment be in the Northwest.
The Army placed her at Fort Polk, La., instead, where she immediately became administrator for three veterinarian operations and 30 people.
"The level of responsibility is high for getting into a professional setting immediately after school," she said.
The Louisiana clinic cares for bomb detector and police dogs; food, water safety and invasive-threat sniffing dogs; and active military and retirees' animals. Fort Polk also keeps goats, chickens and other farm animals to introduce city-living soldiers to these animals before they serve in the Middle East.
"You'd be surprised how many soldiers have never seen animals from a farm," Sula said.
Meet Me-Ja Sula
Occupation: Army Capt.
Mee-Ja Sula, veterinarian
Favorite places in Sequim:
Sunny Farms Country Store and
Lost Mountain Lavender Farm
Favorite dogs: Australian shepherds, Dobermans and big dogs
Why she likes the Army:
"I love wearing the same thing
every day, and you can tell someone they are wrong."
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