Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif. -- MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – The Marine Corps is constantly molding future war-fighters who chose to be a part of the nation’s premier fighting force. The path to becoming a Marine is filled with physical and mental obstacles, forcing each individual to overcome their limitations. Despite the difficulty, people find a way to push through the hurdles and achieve their life-changing goal.
Michelle Mathews is a 19-year-old college student attending Villanova University where she plays volleyball for the school team, while also running track in her spare time. She is also one of the many people whose passion for being in the armed services has put her on the path to becoming a future leader. Since she was in 2nd grade she knew what she wanted to do.
“I kind of had a calling ever since I was little,” said Mathews. “One time when I was at church I was told to close my eyes and envision what I see myself doing and I saw troops in the battlefield. I never really watched those types of movies growing up so I knew it was a sign.”
Mathew’s passion was organic, as none of her family members or friends growing up were in the military and were a little skeptical when she said what she wanted to do. Mathews said this never discouraged her, as she continued to keep the idea in the back of her mind. After moving around the country for much of her young life, Mathews and her family settled in Houston, where she eventually started her college education at Villanova University
Despite her passion for both her studies and playing sports, her true calling is taking part in the Career Orientation and Training of Midshipmen program and become one step closer to achieving her dream.
“This program has been really awesome,” said Mathews. “It’s kind of like an internship for the military. I get to try out all these new things and actually touch and mess with the equipment. I’m a hands on learner, so I can’t just look at something and be told how it works, I have to engage.”
The program offers an exclusive look at the different traits of Marine Corps and Navy warfighting from an officer’s perspective. Each week, Midshipmen transition into a different setting, allowing them to interact with different tools and learn new skills for their future career.
Mathews didn’t know at first what branch she wanted to join. She did her own research and discovered the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps program, where she figured out how to take steps to join the military while earning her degree and participate in sports.
She eventually decided on the Marine Corps because of its reputation and legacy and she wanted to be a part of it. Mathews said that she enjoyed all her experiences with the different sections in the CORTRAMID program but one week stood out the most.
“Marine week has been the best week and this is definitely what I want to be doing,” said Mathews. “Marines are just so different, we are out in the field all dirty and sweaty and I love it. I like how they rotate us so we are constantly engaged. That mentality to be productive at all times and to keep training is one of the things I think separates Marines from the pack.”
Mathews added that she is naturally prone to taking the most challenging and most rewarding road in her life and the Marine Corps embodied that for her. She also stated interacting with Marines made her choice easier. She noticed the attention to detail Marines emphasize and the work ethic they display in everything they do. Most of all she noticed the comradery that Marines had for one another.
“You always see Marines together helping each other and just being a brotherhood,” said Mathews. “I want to be a part of that. I want to be able to trust the people around me and to an extent, I’ve experienced with the Midshipmen that also want to be Marines. We stick together for the most part and that’s what I want.”
Mathews and her fellow Midshipmen learned various things, from infantry squad tactics, to living life on a ship or a submarine. Although those skills and experiences are part of a key process to becoming a well-rounded leader, Mathews believes that the intangible aspects of the training were just as important to her.
“Other than the fact that I can go home and say I did all this cool stuff, I learned a lot of things that I can take with me for the rest of my life,” said Mathews. “Having attention to the smallest details in everything, being able to think on your feet, having trust in those around you and a lot of other things I can apply to not just a future career in the Marine Corps but in anything.”
Mathews’ goal is to become the best Marine Corps officer as humanly possible through hard work and dedication to her craft. More specifically, Mathews’ goal is to be in the fight.
“I don’t want to be sitting on the sidelines while other Marines risk their lives,” said Mathews. “I want to be out there with them fighting the good fight.”