Twentynine Palms -- > I'm from Blackville, South Carolina. I lived in the deep country so everybody knew everybody and it was pretty slow paced growing up. It was a very small, close-knit community.
> My family is pretty big as far as my siblings go. I have four brothers and one sister total. On my mother’s side, I am the oldest, but I’m the middle child on my father’s side. I was extremely close with my three younger brothers from my mother’s side.
> We struggled growing up but we did the most we could with what we had. My mother always pushed us and held us to a higher standard and we grew up strong because of it.
> I played basketball, and ran track and field. Track is my favorite sport and the only one I stuck with. I liked the team and being able to travel and do things. I liked that you had people supporting you and counting on you.
> My mother forced us to support ourselves, which made me a better and more successful adult. She really pushed me to do well.
> I decided to join the Marine Corps after I went to a poolee function. That was the same day I found out that I’d only received a partial scholarship and the college I wanted to go to was too expensive.
> I was walking out of school and a recruiter was walking in. He asked me if I wanted to join and then invited me to the poolee function. Since I lived in South Carolina, drill instructors would come to the functions. I saw the female drill instructor and knew that was who I wanted to be. I enlisted at 17 years old.
> My uncle was the only other person in my family who served in the military. My family has no military background besides him.
> My decision influenced my family. Now, all of my brothers have followed in my footsteps and joined the military. It makes me feel really good that I had a positive influence on my brothers.
> My favorite part about being in the Marine Corps is the Marines. Sometimes you don’t realize how your actions will affect the people around you.
> I’ve been deployed to Iraq. When people find out, they always come up and ask me about my experiences. Being away from family is never easy, but it was especially difficult at the time because my son was only one year old. Deploying has given me a broader perspective on the Marine Corps because when you’re deployed all you have are the Marines to the left and right of you. It really taught me that the Marine Corps is my family.
> The Marine Corps has changed a lot since I joined 12 years ago. We are evolving as a Corps. There are generational gaps, and training has to adapt and grow because of that. It’s taken me some time to step back to change and grow as a leader.
> It’s an awesome feeling to accomplish what I joined for. I attempted to go to drill instructor school last year but got injured. Most people told me I wouldn’t come back. When they were doing the paperwork to drop me because of my injury, they told me the same thing, because most people don’t try again. Now I’m going back to drill instructor school in October. I’m very excited to go back. This is the only thing I wanted from the Marine Corps.
> I’ve learned a lot over my time in the Marine Corps, but something that has stuck with me is to not do it for you, do it for the Corps. You have one thing the Marine Corps can’t take away from you, and that’s your name. Do things to honor your name.