Marines lay boots on campus for first time in 6 years, share their leadership techniques

Braxton Maclean

Staff Photographer

The Student Success Center hosted the first visit from the Marine Corps in six years with its Student Success Career Leadership seminar on Oct. 15.

At 4:15 p.m., the assembly room was far from full, and by 4:30 p.m., approximately 20 of the expected 50 students were in attendance. Capt. Clifton Payton, a Marine Corps Officer Selection Officer, and the Student Success Center’s Towanda Williams stood by as Maj. Leigh Ross began the main presentation.

Ross described her career in the Marine Corps.  She attended both the United States Naval Academy and the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School, ultimately earning a Master’s degree in Defense Systems Analysis.  She was deployed in both Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.  She now serves as the Reserve Support Officer for Marine Corps Recruiting Command.  Ross’s presentation was more than a synopsis of her time in the Corps, though.

“It allows us to talk about what has made the Marine Corps successful, which has been its leaders, from the small unit leaders all the way up to the generals, and essentially, how we become successful and how that translates to the students and what they do on campus, their personal lives and all the way up to how they conduct themselves as part of a team,” said Payton. “And, hopefully, students can take something away from this that would make them a little bit more successful in not just their life but in the school here, also.”

The spirit of the presentation could be described as hope through service, as Ross not only highlighted the Marine Corps’ 14 leadership traits but also gave students ways to implement those traits in their own lives.  From justice and judgment to loyalty and endurance, Ross presented a Marine Corps not just of soldiers, but of dignitaries.

“On our campus, we have a lot of great student leaders. We have a lot of great student organizations that help develop their leadership skills, and I thought it would help, you know, kind of hear something from some people in authority, some professionals, who are out there, actually using their leadership skills to help people all over the country,” said Williams.

Marines don’t just help civilians, though.  A major element of the presentation was the various ways in which the Marines help one another, whether through job opportunities later on or special placement programs for students looking to become officers.

The Marine Corps offers multiple programs for college students looking to join its ranks, depending on students’ classifications and majors, but all share a common thread.  The Marine Corps wants students to complete their degrees first, offering the ability to complete pre-entry training programs during the summers so that they are ready to join upon graduation. That focus on completing education and the handful of Corps-funded graduate study programs drew heavy interest from students who utilized the presentation’s Q&A segment to its fullest.  

One such student was Laquisha Davis, a freshman and mathematics major who is seeking a secondary education certificate.  Davis left the presentation with a positive perception of the Marine Corps message.