LAS VEGAS --
Marines from the Marine Corps Recruiting Command descended upon Las Vegas for the 2012 MAES: Latinos in Science and Engineering “Jackpot of Opportunities” Symposium, Oct. 11 – 13, at the Riviera Hotel & Casino. The symposium brought together thousands of professionals and students working in or studying science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
Founded in 1974, MAES is an organization dedicated to furthering educational and career excellence among Latinos in the STEM field.
“We support and prepare students to achieve an education and career in the STEM fields,” said Michael Acosta, professor and director of research, University of Texas – El Paso.
Acosta, a member of the MAES board of directors for over 20 years, served as president of MAES from 2006 to June, 2012.
A primary goal for Marines at MAES was to clear up misconceptions and educate students and influencers on the myriad opportunities the Corps offers to the most highly qualified among them.
“People in 2012 still have this misconception of Marines as knuckle-dragging infantrymen,” said Master Sgt. Mark McArthur, diversity chief, MCRC. “Many individuals at MAES had never looked at the Marine Corps as a place for professional development.”
To combat this, Marines were integrated into each important event MAES offered. Marines spoke with students one-on-one at the Speed Networking Breakfast, gave workshops on leadership skills, teamed up with students during the College Decathlon and engaged MAES influencers during a center of influence event.
According to Acosta, the one-on-one interaction between Marines and students was crucial and effective in dispelling these myths.
“The personal contact the students had with the Marines was important,” said Acosta. “They can see the success the Marines have achieved and can spread the word to their peers more effectively than if they communicated [with Marines] over the phone or through e-mail.”
For one student, the MAES career fair, which featured a Marine-manned booth, opened his eyes to the many opportunities military service offers.
“I didn’t know all the different jobs you could do in the military,” said Anthony Banuelos, an engineering student from Bakersfield, Calif. “Because of new technology, war is different than it was in the past. When you think about the military the first thing that comes to mind is using weapons but there is a lot more to being a [servicemember] than just shooting. You need to have the technical knowledge to do your job and you also have to be able to make quick decisions.”
According to McArthur, the interaction between students and Marines shed light on the shared culture of Marines and the Hispanic community.
“Events such as the Marine Corps workshop on ethics gave individuals the opportunity to see that the values important to Marines are the same ones that they grew up with; doing what’s right, moral courage, decisiveness,” said McArthur. “Having Marines at the event, not as recruiters but more to show what and who Marines are, provided for an effective engagement opportunity.
The final event of the symposium was the Scholars’ Luncheon. During the luncheon more than 1,000 college students were on hand to see their peers recognized for their achievements and to hear the keynote address from the highest-ranking woman in the Marine Corps, Maj. Gen. Angela Salinas, director, Manpower Management Division.
During her address, Salinas urged students to use the education they are currently receiving to make their country a better place.
“We believe in investing in the future of our nation,” said Salinas. “Each of you will impact the way of life for generations yet to come.”
Salinas, the daughter of parents with grade school educations, told students her story of achieving the American dream while reminding them to never take for granted the education they have received.
“My parents worked hard their entire lives and seeing all their children graduate high school was their American dream,” said Salinas. “Do something great with the gift of education that you have received because some others have not had that chance.”
If you are interested in learning more about career opportunities in the Marine Corps, visit www.MarineOfficer.com
or call 1-800-MARINES.