The Marines have noticed more new recruits with higher education degrees enrolling than ever before. The same can be said for the number of female recruits. Each one of them are looking for a life changing experience than begins with a 13 week boot camp.
Dozens of chin-ups, hundreds of sit-ups and a 1.5 mile run in under 12 and a half minutes. More than 160 marine trainees, referred to as poolees, from all around Central Texas gathered at this physical evaluation event and will soon be heading to boot camp.
Recruits included 25-year-old Yale graduate Kevin Symcox, who could have signed up as an officer. Instead, he put his financial services career on hold because he says he wanted more out of life.
"I wanted to be the guy that holds a rifle, I wanted to be the guy on the ground," Symcox said. "I wanted something, an experience completely different than what I've done so far in my life, and I thought this was the best way to do it."
Katherine Samples and Josefina Mancilla have been side-by-side in high school, and said the Marines is already part of their DNA.
"I just wanted to do something and be a part of something that's greater than myself," Mancilla said,
"and I'll be able to serve my community and my country."
"I can feel myself getting stronger and stronger," Samples said. "It's like you feel like you're so young but you feel different."
Changes her mom can already see.
"(I'm a) very proud, very proud momma," Carolyn Samples said. "That's my baby."
Drill instructors say it's great to have parents come out to support their children. It helps them become familiar with the process and feel comfortable knowing they're kids are in good hands.
"It looks like they grew three inches, they put on 30 pounds of muscle, and just their discipline and level of respect overall," Maj. Jeremiah Salame of the U.S. Marines said of the poolees. "It makes what we do very, very satisfying to see them come back a Marine."
Instructors say these changes start on a day like Thursday, which can often define these young men and women for the rest of their lives.
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