The United States Marine Corps
By Kevin Rueda
For most Northside students, college is the next step in life. While many students search for the perfect college and decide on a major, few think to consider alternatives such as taking a gap year, trying an apprenticeship, or even joining the military. A viable but often overlooked option is joining the United States Marine Corps (USMC).
The USMC is an option for individuals who are not necessarily sure what they want to do after high school. Sergeant MacDonald, a Marine Corps recruiter, said, “I was unhappy in college. I changed my major three times… joining the Marine Corps was fulfilling. It gave me a sense of purpose.” A versatile entity, the USMC provides services in the sea and on the ground. Through participating in the Marines, individuals have the opportunity to train, prepare, and serve our country in a multitude of ways - not necessarily just fighting. Sergeant MacDonald said, “A lot of people feel that the Marine Corps is just about war, fighting, and shooting. That’s a misconception that I stay away from. While fighting is definitely an aspect of the Marine Corps, there is a huge emphasis on humanitarian aid… it was the Marines that were providing aid and relief to Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria.”
Joining the Marine Corps comes with a slew of educational opportunities and benefits. Enlistment in the USMC gives individuals access to college scholarships, such as the Pedro Del Valle Leadership Scholarship, Frederick C. Branch Leadership Scholarship, and Tuition Assistance - a program which covers 100% of a student’s college tuition and fees. Aside from providing a means for higher education, the USMC has several programs which provide individuals with marketable employment skills so that they may pursue a career after their service. This may include vocational and public speaking training for entry into sales, education, and an assortment of other careers or technical skills to enter fields in engineering and technology. Additional benefits include retirement benefits, 30 days of paid vacation annually, access to low-cost life insurance, and discounts on commercial travel and other services.
One of the many perks of joining the Marines is the ability to travel frequently. Sergeant MacDonald described his ability to travel to Kuwait and Jordan. “Lots of people stay in their comfort zone,” said Sargeant MacDonald. “They don’t get to see the beauty and struggle of other parts of the world. It’s important to be able to experience different cultures.”
A common misconception is that individuals interested in enlisting must be tough and physically fit. While it is true that the USMC requires some degree of physical fitness, many people who enlist don’t start there -- USMC will work with and train individuals to get them to where they need to be. As Sergeant MacDonald said, the most important qualities are “Dedication and motivation.”
The United States Marine Corps is a legitimate option for many students. The USMC is a pathway to service while allowing the option for individuals to pursue higher education and career training. For more information, visit https://www.marines.com/.