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HM1 Diana Rudolf, preventive medicine technician, has served in the Navy for 15 years. At the end of her active service, she hopes to pursue a career in education.

Photo by Cpl. Medina Ayala-Lo

What I’ve Learned: Diana Rudolf

28 Mar 2017 | Lance Cpl. Dave Flores Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms

> For the first four years of my life I was raised in Colima, Mexico. It’s a tiny little town that actually resembles the towns in those old Western movies, except its tropical. Colima is known for its agriculture so there were a lot of coconuts, mangoes and guavas. I had a great childhood, a lot of climbing trees and roaming around.

> My siblings and I went to Mexico to be taken care of by my grandparents while my parents were working here in the states. My grandparents had 10 children, my dad being the eldest. So we grew up with aunts and uncles around us at all times.

> Climbing trees is the first memory I have. I think of Colima as the fresh air, the openness, the groves and just being care free.

> I came back to the states when I was 7, so I had to learn the language. I think that was a major hurdle, learning English. Everything else I feel like I was a little bit ahead in when it came to academics.

>During my formative years, I developed a love for the arts. I loved making murals or whatever cool project I could get my hands on.

> We had a great music program at school and that’s how I was introduced to playing the violin. I started playing the violin in third grade and I carried on until high school.

> I took the ASVAB when I was in high school. At the time, the test was presented to us as an aptitude test for a future job, not military related. I took the test and the Marine Corps called me and I thought “Oh no!” It was completely overwhelming. But the Navy recruiter got his foot in the door because he came to visit and I was able to have a face to face with him.

> The hook was him asking me about how I was going to pay for college. He showed me what the military had to offer and it was great, I thought to myself “I’ll be able to go to school.”

> My recruiter told me about the job option of Hospital Corpsman and I didn’t consider it as an option because I don’t like blood or bodily fluids. He assured me I could work in the medical office filing records and doing the administrative stuff. I thought that was great and that’s how I ended up a corpsman.

> I absolutely love being a corpsman. My life is a series of happy accidents. One thing about the military is that you have a community of mentors who want to see you succeed. I got over the blood and bodily fluids by the time we had clinicals. Over a period of two weeks they would stick us anywhere in the [Veterans Affairs] hospital working with real patients under the nurse’s supervision.

> That’s where I got my first sense of pride that what I was doing mattered. I was assigned to an elderly ward and they had a lot of stories and wisdom to share. Us being there made a difference in their lives. That’s when I thought I’m in the right place.

> When 9/11 happened I shipped out in January of 2002. It shook all of us as a country. It made me realize that this is bigger than all of us and it gave me a different outlook on what it meant to be in the military.

> In 2002, we started having back to back deployments. As an E-1 they sent me to an administrative research center for E-5’s and above. I went there fresh out of school and it was my introduction to being a Preventive Medicine Technician. [Marines] were deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan and that was my first big role; to ensure their training and supplies were good to go.

> The Navy has taken me everywhere. I just keep re-enlisting because why not? It’s been a really good time. While stationed at [Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C.] I went on a [Marine Expeditionary Unit] and it was wonderful. We did a lot of training but we also stopped at the ports of Spain, Morocco, Djibouti, and Kuwait. If I have a favorite deployment, it’s definitely the MEU.

> [Directorate of Public Health] is a very small directorate. Because of that we count on each other more than most. When we are missing one sailor, we really feel it. The importance of everyone knowing each other’s job is paramount; that’s what teamwork is about.

> My husband is also in the Navy. He is stationed in El Centro, Calif. He makes the drive to Twentynine Palms every Friday because there is actually more to do up here. He loves being here and I do too.

> We have completed nearly all the hikes in [Joshua Tree National Park.] I have family in Lancaster and Los Angeles, so when we aren’t exploring and being tourists we are with family.

> The desert has a lot to offer. If we can go and explore, that’s what we are doing. If we are really bored we just walk around the desert.

> My first five years in the Navy I was really into getting my schooling done so I took a bunch of classes because I still didn’t know what I wanted to do when I grew up. But when I became a PMT everything happened so fast and it was very tricky to have a stable schedule. Once I got here I did some soul searching and decided to get the most out of my education. So I’m jumping back on that train and when I re-enlist that will be my focus until I retire at my 20 year mark.

> I recently decided that after the Navy I would like to pursue a career in education, preferably one in the arts.

> One thing that I’ve honed in on as a leader is knowing my sailors. I know their strengths. I’m very competitive; whenever any accolades are up for grabs I push them to obtain them. But I don’t put them in anything I don’t feel they would succeed at. But even if we don’t win they get a great experience out of it so there’s really no loss.

> If I could go back to when I first started and give myself advice, it would be to do things to the best of your ability. Try everything, because even if you fail you still get experience out of it. Your worst enemy is yourself and that’s something I repeat to anyone who’s under me. You’re representing something bigger than you, so be the best you can be.

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Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms