Basic School Gives Sailors Chance to Pursue Degrees

Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Dustin Cormier catches up on homework during some down time on Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., Nov. 7, 2012. Joining the Navy with a high school diploma, Cormier is now only a few classes away from receiving his associate's degree. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Antwaun Jefferson

Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Dustin Cormier catches up on homework during some down time on Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., Nov. 7, 2012. Joining the Navy with a high school diploma, Cormier is now only a few classes away from receiving his associate’s degree. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Antwaun Jefferson

Sailors at The Basic School have been arriving at their unit with high school diplomas and leaving with college degrees, thanks to their leadership’s guidance since the summer of 2010.

Medical Platoon’s Chief Hospital Corpsmen Maurice McBride, senior medical department representative, and Chief Hospital Corpsmen Edward Daniel, senior enlisted leader, have been encouraging their corpsmen to sign up for advanced education as soon as they check in. Under the chiefs’ guidance, the majority of the corpsmen who pass through their doors leave with a higher degree.

“We try not to look at them as kids because they are grown men and women,” McBride said. “But we try to give them a sort of parental guidance saying, ‘hey it’s going to benefit you to put the work in now, or do it when you get old,’ which is actually the same thing I tell my kids.”

At work, their job is to teach and train junior officers in the Marine Corps. With this responsibility and the of 70-80 hours a week they put into to it, the corpsmen still find a way to complete classes in their down time.

The chiefs believe in their corpsmen and their ability to push through any obstacles, whether physical or mental, to obtain a degree. In fact, the chiefs welcome the busy lifestyle.

“If you have go to work, have home responsibilities and homework or classes to finish-up, you don’t have time get bored and do things unbecoming of a service member,” Daniel said. “We have the least trouble from our corpsmen, whether pertaining to their work or their social life, when it comes to using DUIs or illegal substances.”

In a little more than two years, corpsmen have been obtaining degrees from associates to doctorates in a range of schools such as Howard and Cornell universities. There have also been countless certifications earned almost every other month in subjects including general studies, business and health care.

“I was on and off with school for over six years because of procrastination and deployments,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Dustin Cormier, leading petty officer. “But as soon as I arrived here, I began to take two classes at a time and, the next thing I knew, I finally obtained my associates.”

The chiefs are not the type of leaders with a “do as I say and not as I do” mentally. They have been pushing each other as well to get further along in their education.

“When I came on board in February, I came in with a Bachelors degree,” Daniel said. “As soon as I walked through the door, Chief McBride asked me where I was toward obtaining my Masters. Now I’m two classes away.”

On top of their busy work week and obtaining degrees, corpsmen have been earning awards as well. This year, within their unit corpsmen have received: senior sailor of the quarter, blue jacket sailor of the quarter, blue jacket sailor of the year for the National Capital Region and Navy Achievement Medal.

With McBride about to leave, Daniel, plans on continuing the push for his corpsmen in the same direction. Both the chiefs said that, thanks to the positive leadership and continued support of Lt. Col. Randall Hoffman, Instructor Battalion commanding officer, Medical Platoon will continue to strive for personal and professional success as well as producing smarter and more equipped corpsmen.

Story by Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Antwaun Jefferson
Marine Corps Base Quantico

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