Student teacher's job after Penn State graduation: U.S. Marine Corps

Jim Carlson
May 04, 2020

Early elementary childhood education major Gabriela Marsh has a typical college student checklist for the month of May:

–Complete College of Education student teaching duties, albeit virtually;

–Graduate from Penn State, albeit virtually;

–Land a job.

Marsh will go three-for-three with that list and the third one will be in real time. About as real as it gets, actually. 

Come May 18, she will commission as second lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps. She graduated from Officers Candidate School in August 2019, completed her senior year at Penn State in the Navy ROTC program and commissions with the Marines in mid-May.

“I have known since I was a young girl that I was called to serve my country in some capacity,” Marsh said. “As I grew older, I knew the Marine Corps was the right path for me. Though it has proven to be a difficult journey, there are few things I am more proud of. To commission alongside (or perhaps, virtually gather alongside) the men that I went through this program with within a few short weeks will be one of the proudest days of my life.”

Born and raised in Moon Township near an Air Force Base adjacent to Greater Pittsburgh International Airport, Marsh said her father was a career airman. “Being a part of that community and family since I was a young girl heavily molded me into who I am today and influenced my choice to serve, alongside my faith,” Marsh said.

While the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has altered Marsh’s final semester of student teaching as well as her graduation ceremony, it will not affect the commencement of her military career.

“The military does not stop operating, training or ensuring readiness during times such as these,” she said. “The Marine Corps has taken every precaution to keep its Marines healthy, but our mission and the safety of our country remains our first priority. For second lieutenants at this time, we are still called to report to our training this summer. I am fortunate to have a foreseeable plan the next few years of my life.”

Marsh said she and all new second lieutenants from across the country will report to The Basic School (TBS) for six months of training in Quantico, Virginia, with the purpose of educating newly commissioned officers professionally, academically and physically.

“Our leadership capabilities are sharpened as we are trained to lead a company of Marines,” she said. “First and foremost, every Marine is a rifleman. So, no matter your specialty designation upon graduation of TBS, every officer is taught the required skills and duties of a rifle platoon commander. Upon graduation, we will be prepared to lead Marines within our occupational specialty, which can include but is not limited to the aviation community, infantry, intelligence, logistics and more.”

Marsh admits that being an elementary school teacher and a Marine seem to be quite the contrast, but claims she doesn’t necessarily see it that way.

“Both are rooted in my love for teaching, mentoring, caring for and leading others,” she said. “Whether that person is a very big human or a little one, knowing how to teach and lead well is synonymous for both ages. The Corps has taught me how to be strong, how to stand firm in my convictions and loyalties, and how caring for your people is the most important thing you can do as a leader.”

These qualities have translated quite smoothly into the primary classroom, she said. 

“With the exception of the yelling, of course,” Marsh said. “Additionally, I did not anticipate how my time in the classroom would also perhaps prepare me to be a better Marine upon graduation. My short time in the classroom has taught me the importance of teamwork, intrusive leadership and how to adapt and overcome a change in plans.”

Teaching fourth-graders at Spring Creek Elementary School in the State College Area School District enabled Marsh to realize that not all schedules can be kept and not all plans can be executed.

“As someone who is rooted in planning and seeing the exact execution of that plan come to fruition, teaching 10-year-olds has taught me to surrender that,” she said. “There are much more important things than my comfort -- one of the foremost being the students’ understanding of the material.”

And she said that as a Marine, that will remain true.

“I hope after serving to dive back into teaching. I know that the experiences that I will acquire will only better equip me for the next chapter in my life,” Marsh said. “I do not know where I will be, or who I will be with, but I have every intent to plant myself within a community where I can teach its children until I grow old.”

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated May 06, 2020