Argentinean Finds Home In Marine Corps
By Sgt. Sam Kille
| | September 19, 2000
GARDEN CITY, N.Y. --
Every day, hundreds of hopeful emigrants make their way to the United States in search of a better life and to pursue the American dream.
When they arrive to America's shores, many find themselves faced with seemingly endless obstacles to achieving the dream. They must learn a new language. They face prejudice and are often forced to compete for jobs that offer very little pay.
While some may give up and sadly resort to a life of crime or poverty, many hit the ground running. Never looking back, these proud new Americans look to the future and carve a niche for themselves and their future.
One such individual is Cpl. Max Ivulich, the career planner at 1st Marine Corps District Headquarters. Ivulich, a 26-year-old native of Buenos Aires, Argentina, made his way to Long Island City, N.Y., in 1989 at the age of 13. The idea to move to the U.S. was his mother's.
"I think she wanted to start a new life for herself, to be on her own," Ivulich said. "Plus there are a lot more opportunities and better schools here."
Ivulich was more wary of the move.
"When I came to New York, I was pretty lonely," Ivulich said. "At first, I wanted to go back to Argentina because I missed my friends.
"Plus there are very few Argentineans here and I couldn't relate to the other Hispanics in the community which was predominately Colombian."
Adding to his troubles was the fact that he and his mother only spoke Spanish, and his mother had a difficult time finding work at first. To help his family make ends meet, he had to work himself and put off going to school for six months.
Determined, Ivulich quickly learned English. Yet it wasn't until about three years later that he began to appreciate the move.
"I was coming back from Manhattan where I worked as a bike messenger one day," he said. "When I got off the 'Seven Train' at the 74th Street platform, I looked at the awesome view of the city. From that moment, everything changed for me."
Now hopeful, Ivulich hit the books. He graduated a year early from New Town High School, Elmhurst, N.Y., in 1993. From there he went on to LaGuardia Community College in Queens, N.Y., with aspirations of one-day becoming a doctor.
"My father was a doctor in the Argentinean Army," Ivulich said. "When I was little I loved playing doctor with his medical tools."
Going to college was not easy though. Because he was not a U.S. citizen yet, he was not entitled to any grants. To pay for school he had to work three jobs.
Eventually, it was too hard to keep up with his studies and he left school. Always one for a challenge, Ivulich walked into the Marine recruiter's office in December 1995.
"Because I grew up around the military, I always had an interest," he said. "I chose the Marines because when faced with a choice, I usually take the harder one."
In January 1996, Ivulich shipped to Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris, Island, S.C., and for the first time, he truly began to feel that he fit in somewhere.
"I was surprised to see that color doesn't exist in the Marine Corps like it often does in the outside world," Ivulich said. "Which was good because I never felt that I fit in with the Hispanics, whites or blacks at home. In the Corps I do."
After attending Administration School at Camp Lejeune, N.C., Ivulich was stationed at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, Calif. While there, he met his wife Amber, who he married in March 1998. The couple were soon blessed with their son Demian, who is now two-years-old. Also in 1998, Ivulich became a U.S. citizen.
Excited to be back, Ivulich returned home to New York in April when he checked in to the District.
He is also back in school pursuing his dreams of being a doctor. A biology major at Nassau Community College in Garden City, Ivulich is tackling 15.5 credit hours worth of coursework.
While some think he's crazy for taking so many classes in his off-duty time, he just shrugs his shoulders.
"The Marine Corps has taught me that I can do anything," he said.
Cpl. Max Ivulich is doing just that.