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4th Marine Corps District

Marine Corps Recruiting Command

Spencer Ohio native turns down Harvard in favor of Marine Corps

By Sgt. Tyler S. Giguere | 4th Marine Corps District | June 15, 2017


The decision to enlist as a United States Marine is never made lightly, but for Pfc. Gabbrielle Cecil that decision may have been even more difficult because it meant that she was turning down her acceptance to Harvard University.

For Cecil, a native of Spencer, Ohio, the decision came down to motivation. She says that her heart was no longer in school, junior year was a struggle for her and she wanted to do something that would make a difference for the better.

“I’ve gained more confidence, independence and self-reliance,” said Cecil. “I got a ton of support for joining the Marines. My parents supported my decision 100%, and the rest of my family was impressed and supported me as well.”

It wasn’t hard to find out why Cecil was accepted into Harvard. She held a 4.0 GPA throughout high school, completed 5 AP courses and had an ACT score of 23. On top of all of that, she also was a part of the wood club, the ski & snowboard club and was on the Agriculture Parliament team.

Despite her many achievements, Cecil had made up her mind that college wasn’t right for her at this moment in life. When asked how long it took her to decide, her answer was surprising to most.

“It wasn't very long, I was more bouncing the idea around before deciding I wasn't ready for college yet,” said Cecil. “I don't plan on taking any college classes until maybe a couple years into my contract. I'm also not sure if I get out what I plan to do yet.”

Attending Harvard was not the only decision she had to make. Cecil also had to decide which branch of the military best suited her. She had been thinking about the military for some time, but it wasn’t until last spring that she really started her research.

“I chose the Marines because of the pride I've seen in every Marine…the comradery they all share,” said Cecil.

With her academic ability, some wondered why she did not go to the Naval Academy to become an officer. According to Cecil, her decision was a result of a realization about what she wanted in life.

“I decided I wanted to go enlisted,” said Cecil. “I wanted to have a more hands on job. I didn't want to be in charge of an entire regiment. I realized that I'm a simple person, and if someone tells me what to do and how to do it, I'll get it done.”

Cecil has already graduated boot camp and is currently in Marine Combat Training. Less than half a year into her career, and she has already taken away several important life lessons.

“The Marines have taught me self-reliance and independence,” said Cecil. “As a leader you need to be able to have self-control over your physical actions and the words you say. Leaders set the example.”

She was able to use the challenges she faced in school to help her become a stronger leader. Cecil felt like she did not fit in at school and faced a lot of drama with her friends, but the Marine Corps has helped to change her perspective.

“I didn't really know what to expect,” said Cecil. “But I'm looking forward to the people I'll meet, the places I'll go and learning my job the most. I have a good thing going and I'm excited to see where the Corps will take me.”

Cecil says that she is proud of her decision and is ready to start the next chapter in her career as a United States Marine.

“I have no regrets for joining the Marines at all,” said Cecil. “I think it was the best decision I made for my life at this point in time.”