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Becoming a Marine: Learning Experience for Educators

By Sarah Meskin

My colleague, Ashley Cotton, and I recently had the privilege of attending a weeklong educator’s workshop hosted by the Marine Corps at the Recruit Depot in San Diego. The workshop was an exclusive opportunity for over 50 selected leaders, coaches, directors, administrators, and educators from across the country to experience firsthand the transformative journey of young civilians into Marines.

Throughout the workshop, we received the most current information about Marine Corps training practices, explored different military occupational specialties (MOS), discussed service options, practiced a military lifestyle, and learned about the different educational opportunities available to Marines.

This experience gave us a deep understanding of what it takes to be a part of the Marine Corps. From participating in obstacle courses to being on exclusive base access, we all left not only with the confidence to have more informative conversations on what the Marine Corps stand for but also with an unforgettable personal growth experience.

As a group, we engaged in a variety of activities and experiences that are designed to simulate Marine training. From navigating obstacle courses to undertaking high stakes leadership challenges, every moment pushed us beyond our comfort zones, fostering teamwork, collaboration, and a sense of esprit de corps. Participating in more physical aspects of basic training, like rappelling down a 60-foot tower and learning gun safety, allowed us to experience life as a Marine firsthand.

On our first day we got off the bus and stepped onto the yellow footprints, mirroring the experience of the newly recruited Marines when they first get to the depot. On the last day of the workshop, we were able to watch recruits graduate from their 13-week basic training into official Marines. Seeing the lifecycle of what it takes to get from start to finish was inspiring and left a lasting impression.

For Ashley and myself, a highlight of the workshop was the opportunity to interact with a variety of different Marines: Sergeants, Drill Instructors, and Majors. We had the chance to observe their training sessions and learn about the values and principles that guide their work. It was inspiring to see the level of dedication and discipline that the Marines embody every day. As Gunnery Sergeant Hooker reminds new recruits during tough times, “You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”

Semper Fidelis: Always faithful. This motto symbolizes the lifelong commitment of every Marine to the Corps and country. Honor, courage, and commitment serve as their three guiding principles. Honor leads the Marines in unwavering integrity, courage empowers them through adversity, and commitment fuels their spirit of discipline and determination.

Captain Carly X. Donner expressed that, “Being a Marine has helped me be a much more well-rounded person and have a better appreciation for everything that we have here in America or even in my own personal life. It has given me the utmost confidence that I can continue to thrive and adapt to any environment or task”.

Returning to Idaho, there is importance in expanding students’ horizons regarding post-high school options such as college, trade school, or military service. Having the knowledge gained from the workshop, I’m better equipped to engage in more informed discussions about the values and opportunities the Marine Corps offer. Collaborating with principals and leaders in education, we’ll be able to integrate our experiences to further empower students.

The Marine Corps ability to mold individuals into disciplined, resilient, service-oriented leaders is incredible, shaping not only their military service but their character and overall outlook on life.