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Kristen Mahler is the manager at the Starbucks located in the Marine Corps Exchange. She became proficient in ballet and tap dancing while practicing those dancing styles for 16 years.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Charles Santamaria

What I've Learned: Kristen Mahler

21 Mar 2014 | Lance Cpl. Charles Santamaria

Kristen Mahler is the manager at the Starbucks located in the Marine Corps Exchange. She became proficient in ballet and tap dancing while practicing those dancing styles for 16 years.

My main hobbies growing up were swim team and dance, and I invested a lot of time into both.

I practiced bally, tap, and dance for 16 years and I worked hard on all three but I favored tap.

Although I never competed in dance, there was an annual recital that used to be held where I could showcase my talent and those are cherished memories for me.

Because of the confidence I got through dance, I’ve never been afraid to be in front of people and speak with confidence and that makes for a good leadership quality.

Dance began to take a toll after a while when I had school and then dance practice for a few hours right after.

Keeping an up-tempo schedule like that from the age of 3 became a challenge, but the hard work paid off when I would perform in front of an audience.

One of the major lessons dance taught me was to keep smiling after any mistake or accident. That lesson carries over into life as well because when a person makes a mistake it won’t help the situation to be critical on yourself or stop everything to keep thinking about it. The show must go on. You have to accept the mistake and just keep smiling and performing to keep the show going.

I began lifeguarding from a young age and did that as a job for the summer seasons.

Although I didn’t participate in my school’s swim team but I was good enough to manage pools. My first exposure to lifeguarding was through the Junior Lifeguard Program.

It was through this avenue that I realized how much I love to help people.

I want to be the type of person that people can rely on in an emergency. I enjoy the challenge of working under pressure and being able to tell someone ‘don’t worry … I got this.’

I learned a great deal about responsibility from just being a lifeguard myself to becoming the person that was teaching others to save lives in the pool.

Lifeguarding was not only my first job, it was also a good stepping stone for my goals to get into the medical field.
It was great moving out and becoming an Emergency Medical Technician because it was all the things I enjoyed doing without all the paperwork.

Just being able to help people when their lives were in danger was a great privilege.

I moved out here and began working with Marine Corps Community Services and I love my job, although my goal of getting into the medical field is halted for now, I’m very focused on where I am in my life currently.

Managing the Starbucks on base is great because we get to have an impact on someone’s day whether that’s with good manners or coffee to get them through the morning.

I love being able to run a store that helps Marines and people on base with their day-to-day. I’ve put down my dancing shoes but I know I want my children to dance and learn all the valuable life lessons it taught me growing up.

My kids are still too young to start learning dance, but when they do, I want them to learn the value of being able take anything that life can throw at you, brush it off and keep smiling and performing just as I did.


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