LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. --
In order to help broaden the Marine Corps’ base of support and spread its message of opportunity, Marines from across the country descended upon the League of United Latin American Citizens’ 83rd annual National Convention and Exposition, June 25-30.
With Marine Corps Recruiting Command’s continued focus on increasing the diversity of the Corps, LULAC’s National Convention and Exposition offered an opportunity for Marines to build relationships in the Latino community and leave a positive impression in the minds of young Latinos deciding their futures. Marines were able to accomplish this through an enhanced area canvassing event at the convention’s job fair and through interaction and engagement with LULAC members.
“We’re delighted to be able to partner with [the Marines],” said Brent Wilkes, National Executive Director, LULAC. “It is no accident that LULAC became strong after World War II. For the first time, Latinos had gone to war and returned home with the leadership skills that the military is known for.”
LULAC is the largest Latino civil rights and advocacy group in the United States.
While at the convention, Marines embraced the opportunity to impart some of those leadership skills to more than 500 high school and college students at the Department of Defense Collegiate Youth Luncheon Forum, June 29. Headlining the event was one of the Marine Corps’ most accomplished leaders, Maj. Gen. David C. Garza, inspector general of the Marine Corps.
Throughout Maj. Gen. Garza’s talk with the students, he focused on the importance of making goals and following them through to completion.
“One of the greatest problems American youth have is not finishing,” said Maj. Gen. Garza. “On every journey you must assess and make judgments, but you can never lose sight of your goal. You need to make a plan and write your plan. When you write your goals down, you take responsibility for them.”
For one student, Maj. Gen. Garza’s advice really sank in.
“I thought that [Maj. Gen. Garza] was a really good speaker,” said Edgar Ramirez, 18, a recent high school graduate from Hialeah, Fla. “My favorite part [of Maj. Gen. Garza’s speech] was when he said to write down your goals. That’s important because when you write them down you take ownership of them. I like to hear advice like that from him because he’s someone who has accomplished a lot in his career.”
In addition to talking to the students about setting goals for themselves, Maj. Gen. Garza also familiarized students with the possibility and process of being selected to attend any of the five service academies in the United States, such as the United States Naval Academy.
“Not only is the Marine Corps going to pay for your education but we’re going to give you a job once you graduate,” said Maj. Gen. Garza. “But you need to start planning now. Those graduates from the [Naval Academy] feel that joy at graduation because of steps they started taking when they were in your shoes.”
The lecture on service academies was eye opening for Ramirez.
“One of the most important things I learned is that there is a chance to go to good schools like the service academies,” said Ramirez. “There’s more stuff to do to try to get accepted but those are prestigious schools so they’re worth it.”
Following Maj. Gen. Garza’s keynote address, representatives from the Marine Corps, Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard formed a panel on stage to explain to students the role of their respective service and share their experiences. Panelists shared such things as their day to day duties, things they enjoy about their job and how they arrived at the point they are at now.
“There were [servicemembers] up there who were [infantry officers], submarine commanders and administrators and that showed us how many different paths there are in the military,” said Ramirez.
If you are interested in learning more about the multiple career paths the Marine Corps offers, visit www.Marines.com or call 1-800-MARINES.