A Spring semesters—all in preparation for the culminating

            A recent challenging experience that
has greatly impacted my development as a leader was attending—and passing—the
United States Marine Corps’ Officer Candidates School (OCS) in the Summer of

            This experience was the culmination
of three years of training as a Midshipman in the Naval Reserve Officers’
Training Corps (NROTC) program. I attended a month-long training event in San
Diego, California in the Summer of 2015, as well as training at Marine Corps
Mountain Warfare Training Center in Bridgeport, California during the Summer of
2016. In addition to these Summer training events, I have been participating in
NROTC events and training during the regular Fall and Spring semesters—all in
preparation for the culminating test that is Officer Candidates School.

            The Marine Corps maintains its
Officer Candidates School aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico, which is located
in Virginia. I attended the 6-week Platoon Leaders Class, during which time I
was tested on Marine Corps history, leadership, close order drill, weapons
handling, and physical fitness. Physical training, small unit leadership,
infantry tactics, and academics are all taught and tested under the stressful
conditions created by the ever-present Marine Corps Drill Instructors, known at
OCS as “Sergeant Instructors”.

            In spite of all of the stress and
confusion created by the Sergeant Instructors, and the intensity of the
physical training; the most challenging part of OCS was, for me, the definitive
nature of the course. If a Candidate is dropped for failing to meet the
standard, they are not afforded a second chance to become a Marine Corps
Officer. This sense of finality was firmly implanted in my mind as we did our
drilling, forced marches followed by combat patrols, and while the Sergeant
Instructors did their very best to create as much chaos as possible in our
living quarters. That is not to say that the yelling, weapons, and obstacle
course nightmare that is the stagnant water obstacle known as “The Quigley”,
did nothing to challenge me—it was all very effective in doing just that.

            In a broad sense, I learned to be
confident in my abilities after I made it successfully through OCS. More
specifically, I learned a lot about leading a group of individuals, both small
and large in number, through adverse scenarios. My self-discipline was
definitely improved upon my graduation, as OCS forces you to rely on your
individual will to overcome obstacles and succeed through the decisions that
you make.

            If I had to do anything differently,
I think that I would attempt to take more risks, rather than making some
decisions based upon safety and comfort. That said, I believe that my
graduating OCS was due in large part to the kind of decisions that I did end up
making, so it is hard to argue for any change that could change that outcome.