Graduating with Honor (Part III)
This blog post is the final of a series saluting our graduating scholars. As we celebrate the impact on America’s future during Military Appreciation Month, today we’re featuring a post written by one of our scholars, Kareem El, a graduating senior at Howard University from Washington, D.C.
My father joined the Marine Corps in 1964 and although I wasn’t raised in an active duty military household, I grew up admiring the unspoken values that the Marine Corps instilled in my father during his service. At a young age, I knew that I wanted to embody my father’s values of honor, courage and commitment, but it wasn’t until more recently that I decided to follow in his footsteps.
Prior to being introduced to the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation, my father and I had not discussed his time spent in the military. I knew that my father was a man of honor, courage and discipline, but we did not discuss his service or what it meant to be a Marine. The Scholarship Foundation helped to bridge this gap of silence, and I learned how my father fought valiantly to protect this country and to protect his brothers and sisters who fought beside him during the Vietnam War. I’ve always respected and admired my father, but when I was 20 I was honored to see my father receive a Purple Heart for his service, and at that point I knew I wanted to follow my father’s footsteps. I knew I wanted to be a Marine.
Along with my father’s unwavering service, both the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation and my ROTC family encouraged me to pursue my dreams of serving this country as a United States Marine. The Scholarship Foundation presented me with a unique opportunity to network and build relationships with Marines, Marine Corps Veterans and CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, who each reminded me of my father and each resembled the man I wanted to become.
As I approached my final year at Howard University, I hope to make them proud – my father, the Foundation, my mentors and ROTC. I wanted to show each of them that they made an investment in someone who is going to make a difference. As I walk across the stage and accept my diploma, I want them each to look at me with pride and say, “Wow! He did it. He’s doing great!”
I am looking forward to attending Officer Candidate School over the summer months and beginning my career as a Marine Corps Officer. The past four years have been an unforgettable journey and my father, the Scholarship Foundation, my mentors as well as ROTC have each helped to mold me into the man I am today. As I embark on the next chapter of this journey, I look forward to the moment when I am commissioned as a Marine Corps Officer and I am able to salute my Father, salute my mentors and shake the hand of Margaret B. Davis as I stand before them as an Officer, a leader, a Marine.