Student Features

Senior girl leads future Marines

Oct 28, 2014

(left) Anna; (right) Anna and other future Marine recruits at swearing-in ceremonies.

The Few. The Proud. A girl?

Anna, 17, a PA Cyber senior, can’t wait to “Oorah!” as a Marine, and has taken all the right steps to make it happen.

She has already enlisted through the Delayed Entry Program (DEP), and after graduation from PA Cyber next spring will be going to Parris Island, S.C., for 13 weeks of recruit training.

Not only is she personally preparing herself, she is the leader for a group of 28 future recruits, only four of them female, who are going through a year of pre-enlistment physical training.

“I decided to join the Marines because I want a challenge. I know I'll get it. The chance to serve in America's finest fighting force is a privilege. I can't wait to start my journey,” said Anna.

Anna lives in north-central Pennsylvania, a stone’s throw from the New York state line. She enrolled in PA Cyber eight years ago because attending the district’s distant middle and high schools would have meant riding two hours on a bus each day.

Compared to other branches of military service, fewer women enlist in the Marines, perhaps because of the rough-and-ready image and history of the U.S. Marine Corps as a fighting unit that puts first boots on the ground in combat hotspots. About 7 percent of Marines are female, compared to 14 percent in the Army and higher numbers in other branches, according to published Department of Defense figures.

Upon completing recruit training, Marines have an eight-year commitment: four of active duty, four in reserves. They immediately are eligible for college tuition benefits under the GI Bill. Anna plans to begin earning a college degree in biology or a related field. In 10th grade, she was one of 20 PA Cyber students chosen to attend a workshop in which they prepared DNA samples, and she is enrolled this year in an Advanced Placement Biology class.

The Marines have a lower washout rate of recruits than the Army, says the DOD, possibly because of the fitness training they undergo before reaching boot camp.

“To prepare for boot camp, twice a week I go to physical training at my local recruiting substation. I am the guide of this station, which means that I am the leader of the 28 future Marines in this pool of recruits,” said Anna, adding proudly, “I am the one responsible for them.”

Physical training, she said, “consists of CrossFit circuits and running. Once a month, there are pool functions which are mandatory for everyone in the DEP. At these functions we are required to take an initial strength test, which consists of maximum crunches in two minutes, a maximum set of pull-ups, and a timed mile and a half run.”

A grandfather served in Army intelligence during the Vietnam War, but no one else in her family, including parents David and Faith, have a military background.

Recruits can request the type of job they’d like to do in the Marines. In a nod to her grandfather, Anna made intelligence her first choice.

But why the Marines?

“It was just a thought I had two years ago,” she said. “I knew I wanted to be in the military. The thought appealed to me, and the Marines seemed like a bigger challenge, the hardest way to go.”

The climax of recruit training at Parris Island is the Crucible, a defining test every recruit must go through to become a Marine. Over a 54-hour period, recruits march 45 miles and endure food and sleep deprivation. Teams of recruits face a barrage of challenges by night and day that require them to work together to overcome obstacles.

“After the Crucible, the final test, I will earn my Eagle, Globe and Anchor and become a Marine,” Anna said.


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About PA Cyber

Serving students in kindergarten through 12th grade, the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School (PA Cyber) is one of the largest, most experienced, and most successful online public schools in the nation. PA Cyber's online learning environments, personalized instructional methods, and choices of curricula connect Pennsylvania students and their families with state-certified and highly-qualified teachers, and rich academic content that is aligned to state standards. Founded in 2000, PA Cyber is headquartered in Midland (Beaver County) and maintains a network of support offices throughout the state. As a public school, PA Cyber is open for enrollment by any school-age child residing in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and does not charge tuition to students or families.