Marine Corps Reserve officer remains competitive through Penn State World Campus

Jessica Hallman
November 02, 2018

 UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — “Why do you serve?”

This is a question that Jesicca Chamberlin, a communications officer in the Marine Corps Reserve, is frequently asked by people she meets.

“Implying, of course, that as a woman I shouldn’t or at least I am not expected to serve,” she explained. “The truth is, as any other servicewoman would tell you, we serve for the exact same reasons the guys do; no more, no less.”

Chamberlin has had that spirit of service instilled in her since childhood.

“My family was and still is very patriotic, and we feel any able body who can serve, should serve,” she said.

That is what led her to the Marine Corps, where she has served for the past 10 years. With a military occupational specialty in computer technology, she serves in roles that enable communication through methods such as phones, email and radio. She holds a bachelor’s degree in international affairs from the University of Maine, and now, as a military officer stationed in North Carolina, she is pursuing a master of professional studies in homeland security, information security and forensics option online through Penn State World Campus.

“Like most professions, we are expected to continue our education off duty in order to stay competitive with our peers and proficient in our jobs,” she said.

She said that she chose Penn State World Campus because of its great reputation.

“There are more brick-and-mortar schools with online options, but World Campus allows us to completely achieve a degree via distance,” she said. “Some other schools only allow part of your degree through online means.”

She has taken advantage of the opportunity to learn from any location at any time. A frequent traveler with a military career and a family — including a spouse who also is a Marine and two children under the age of 4 — she is able to balance her busy schedule with her priority of advancing her education.

“The military is not all that different from any other career,” she said. “I remember both of my parents working around the clock to include weekends, and they had jobs as a mechanic and secretary. My brother and I were the first generation to go to school; you don’t achieve that unless you are determined to do so.”

Chamberlin recognizes that her forthcoming degree will not only help her in her military career, but could also be something to continue working on once her service ends.

“Our careers are not guaranteed,” she said. “The military goes through layoffs and downsizing, as well as [experiences] personnel having medical conditions that no longer allow them to serve. There always needs to be a fallback career outside the military.”

She expects to complete her studies in the coming months.

“My family should finish this degree in December,” she said. “I phrase it like that because they have sacrificed a lot for me to achieve this degree. My husband puts in extra time watching our kids so I can sneak away.”

While she doesn’t have the pursuit of yet another degree planned for any time in the near future, she said that her next big goal is to publish a book.

“Something unrelated to my work, just for fun, and to say, ‘I did it,’” she said.

And, of course, she plans to build upon her patriotism and pride in the military. There’s another statement that she frequently hears from people she meets: “Thank you for your service.”

“My husband and I always reply ‘Thank you for your support,’” she said. “We understand that support of the military was not always given and we are fortunate to serve during a time that it is, so we never want to take that for granted.”

Visit the Penn State World Campus website for more information about degree programs offered online.

Last Updated November 02, 2018