Future Marine Corps officer studies at Quincy University

By Raven Ash

Leadership is the backbone of any successful team. It takes a strong person to stop and put others needs above their own and to acknowledge their own failure to lead others to success.

Jess Merino, a senior Quincy Hawks women’s basketball player, is a leader who exemplifies honor, courage, and commitment on and off the court.

Even though Merino will say good-bye to the court after the upcoming season, her leadership skills are here to stay and ready to be put to good use.

Merino will be swapping out her Hawks jersey for a Marine officer uniform.

Merino says the military has always been a part of her plan. Last year she received an email from her selection officer offering her the opportunity she had been waiting for.

This past summer she was finally able to start the process of becoming a Marine. She attended Marine Corps Officer Candidate School in hopes of becoming a commissioned officer after graduating from Quincy University.

Officer Candidate School is a 10-week training program held in Quantico, Va., for potential Marine Corps officers. A candidate’s graduation is dependent on their success in three areas: leadership, academics and physical fitness. Leadership accounts for 50 percent of the scoring. Academics and physical fitness each account for 25 percent. In addition to graduating Officer Candidate School, candidates must also obtain a bachelor’s degree.

While most entry level Marines going through basic training are only taught to obey orders, officer candidates are also put into situations where they demonstrate leadership by giving orders.

Merino says that one of her biggest challenges during training was learning how to bounce back from consistent failure.

“Officer Candidate School is designed for you to fail, and they want you to go through hardships and failure because they want to see how you will respond to it,” Merino said.

Upon the successful completion of training, officer candidates earn their Eagle, Globe and Anchor pin that signifies their initiation into the Marine Corps.

For Merino, the initiation was the most rewarding part of the process.

The role of a Marine Corps officer is much different than the role of regularly enlisted Marines.

As an officer, Merino will be in an important leadership position that includes many responsibilities. Officers act as decision-makers who are to lead and give orders to all junior and enlisted Marines. Responsible leadership is an important quality of an officer because an officer’s decision-making process could determine the life or death of the officer’s Marines.

“All Marine officers need to embody the core elements of honor, courage and commitment into their life. Officers lead by example and take charge in all aspects of military life to ensure unit and personal readiness, logistical operations and overall wellness of troops,” current Marine, Logan Jeffers, said.  

After graduating in May of 2020, Merino will commission as a second lieutenant. She will return to Quantico, Va., next Aug. for six months of extensive and detailed training. This training will determine her job in the marines and where she will be stationed.

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