Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms Calif. --
Brandy Soublet says she has been in the right place at the right time. That may be so, but she doesn’t back down from opportunities that cross her path – she waits for the moment.
She grew up with two immigrant parents who worked hard to give their children a good life. Their inspiration caused her to work hard. She took leadership roles in her early schooling, earned her master’s degree in college and became one of the first women to be placed in an all-male combat unit.
“My father is from Cuba and my mother is from Puerto Rico. They are both very much self-made people,” said 1st Lt. Brandy Soublet, S-4 officer, 3rd Combat Engineer Battalion. “My dad was an entrepreneur and made a life for himself and for us, but I had a very different childhood than them.”
Soublet’s parents worked to send her and her brother to private schools. She worked hard because her parents worked harder.
“I had so many opportunities that they could never dream of as children,” Soublet said. “Knowing they grew up very poor, and what they came from, I was always kind of feverish to take advantage of opportunities and to work as hard as I could as kind of a thank you to them for all they’ve done for me.”
Soublet attended an all-girls, private high school where she played varsity soccer, became the captain of the soccer team during her senior year and was also elected vice president of the student body council.
“I guess I was one of those over achievers,” Soublet said. “I wanted to fill up my resumé with extracurriculars but mostly I just always had my nose in a book or I was on the soccer field. It was really interesting because I went to an all-girls high school to the Naval Academy, which was probably about 80 percent men, which was a big difference.”
Soublet was one of the first people in her family to go to college and was the first person in her family to achieve higher than a bachelor’s degree. She studied ocean engineering at the Naval Academy and then went on to earn a master’s degree in material science and engineering.
“I had a lot of great professors in college who saw that I had a passion for my studies and encouraged me to continue to grad school,” Soublet said. “I ended up going to Pennsylvania State University for graduate studies. I was commissioned after I graduated college so I was actually a second lieutenant when I went to grad school.”
Soublet took advantage of a very unique program that’s offered to Naval Academy graduates, which allows them to commission but also to go to grad school right after college.
“I was just sort of in the right place at the right time,” Soublet said, “and I did really well in the Naval Academy. I had to also get the OK from the Marine Corps but I was still active duty the whole time and I was a second lieutenant for two years while I was at Penn State. Once I graduated, I went to The Basic School.”
Soublet says she didn’t make up her mind whether she wanted to follow the path of the Navy or the Marine Corps until toward the end of her time at the Naval Academy.
“I actually initially went there thinking I would do anything other than be a Marine,” Soublet said. “I would be a Navy pilot or a Navy surface warfare officer but I didn’t want to do the Marine thing. But over the years of being there, I found that the people that I empathized the most with and found myself really getting along with, all ended up graduating Marines. With that pattern I discovered that the Marine Corps was more of the mindset that I wanted to be in. We’re more disciplined and have a lot of pride in what we do.”
Soublet is a go-getter. When an idea pops into her head, she runs with it.
“I’ll always love an adventure,” Soublet said. “I climbed Machu Piicchu right when I graduated college and I spent two weeks back packing through Europe by myself when I finished TBS. I’m very hard headed and independent. It’s something I’ve wanted to do all my life so I took a military flight over to Germany and I went to Munich, Prague, Budapest and Vienna. You go at your own pace and see what you want. You’re much more open to meeting new people and you learn a lot about yourself. It’s a real boost in confidence and independence.”
After completing TBS, Soublet chose to come out to the west coast and was pleasantly surprised to be stationed at the Combat Center.
“Everyone always wants San Diego,” Soublet said. “I got Twentynine Palms and honestly, I couldn’t be happier here. It’s been home since day one. I really enjoy it and I have a great group of friends here.”
Soublet is one of the initial 45 women who, as of June 1, 2012, were assigned to a formerly all-male battalion, a new milestone reached in the Marine Corps’ efforts to integrate more females into combat roles.
“Initially, I was assigned to Combat Logistics Battalion 7,” Soublet said. “But then, when I was at Combat Logistics Officer course, they pulled us in and said, your orders have changed. You’re going to CEB.” Honestly, I was just in the right place at the right time. June 1 was when this change was being made and I graduated my course in May. But given that, I was more than happy to take advantage of the opportunity.”
Any new lieutenant going to their first unit is going to be a little nervous, Soublet said. She was apprehensive at first but once she got to her unit, she told herself that being the only female in a combat unit was not going to make a difference. She was just eager to do her job.
“They responded incredibly well,” Soublet said. “The first day or so it was sort of like, ‘One of these Marines is not like the other,’ because they weren’t used to working with females. But then, it was just business as usual and I’ve never had any issues. They’ve just accepted me like any other lieutenant and they judge me based on my performance and not my gender.”
Soublet will be deploying with 3rd CEB in early April. She says she is excited and eager to go on her first deployment where not only will she get to lead her troops in country, but she will also pick up the rank of captain.
“My grandfather doesn’t know much about Marine Corps rank,” Soublet said. “But he always says, ‘I never thought I would see the day when one of my grandchildren would become a captain in the United States Marine Corps, never in my wildest dreams.’ So now I can't wait to come back so I can say, ‘Abuelo, I did it. Look, now I’m a Marine Corps captain.’’’
Inspired by the love, compassion and dedication of her family, Soublet has worked hard to get to where she is today. She attests her success to the mindset her parents instilled in her at a young age.
“I think that confidence will take you a long way in life.” Soublet said. “Be bold, it will take you places.”