Growing up my dad always referenced the Marine Corps as the most significant experience in his life, and he was a very successful man. He was a high school principal; he went on to get his graduate degree. So I saw him, and knowing for him the Marine Corps set him up for success, it really intrigued me and it made me ask myself, "Gosh, what can the Marine Corps do for me?"
I began my Marine Corps career in 1993 when I enrolled in ROTC at the University of Michigan.
It was really interesting to know that the gender dynamics, training, serving along side each other, and that was great because it really prepared me for what the future of my career was going to look like.
I was certainly fearful of the physical regimes the Marines were going to put you through. So getting there and having to experience the intensity of Marine Corps training was, yes, it was remarkable. But I tell you, when I completed Officer Candidates School, what I felt was a feeling unlike anything I had ever experienced. And I've had many successes throughout my life, but pinning on my 2nd Lieutenant bars and being called a Marine is always one of the most prideful moments of my life.
The age of 21, 22 … I had an amazing amount of responsibility, responsibility my private sectors don't get: managing, leading troops, or even managing people for that matter, until they're in their mid 30's.
What's amazing about the Marine Corps is that they train men and women at every single level of the organization to be leaders. They all get the same intense leadership curriculum.
I was joining the Marine Corps for challenge and adventure, but everybody kept bringing me back to the fact that the Marine Corps was going to make you a leader. And now looking back I now know what that skill set is. It's about being accountable. It's about exceeding performance standards. It's about being disciplined, decisive and ultimately, it's about being authentic every single day and working hard to motivate, influence and inspire others.
The Marine Corps for me was the number one most significant decision I've made in my life. Who would have thought that the Marine Corps would teach me the skill set that would allow me to be a better parent, a better spouse, a better volunteer, ultimately a better civilian.