Whitman student opts to enlist in Marines

Hadley Jolley

Courtesy of Ryan Finnegan

This past summer, senior Ryan Finnegan enrolled in a 10-week program at an Officer Candidate School for the Marines in Quantico, Va.

One day, he and the students took a very difficult hike during which one of the officers would periodically shout “grenade” to keep the future soldiers on their toes. The first time the officer called out, Finnegan crouched and the officer berated him, explaining that if there actually was a grenade, he should dive to the ground to protect himself.

Later, when his group was not marching fast enough in another drill, the same officer yelled “grenade” to speed them up and Finnegan dove to the ground.

He was the only one to do so: the other trainees just laughed. Finnegan still had a lot to learn, but he made it through training and is now ready to take the next step in his military career.

Finishing up a stint student-teaching pupils who needed extra reading assistance, Finnegan decided that teaching: his career plan up until that point: was not for him. After making this decision, Finnegan wanted to find something else to do, something that would still allow him to serve others.

“I spent a semester looking at other service jobs,” he said.

Finnegan looked at working for the state department, the National Park Service and other government jobs. He finally settled on joining the military: the only recent member of his family to do so: against what he perceived to be the feelings of many of his peers.

“It wasn’t as bad as people said,” he said.  “I really liked the program. I could be a regular student, spend a summer training and back out if I needed,” he said.

But Finnegan did not decide to back out. He will be officially  sworn into the military in June and will go on to the two other stages of training: basic and job school. Finnegan wants to go into intelligence, but personal preference is far down on the military’s list of priorities when assigning jobs: aptitude and military  needs are more important.

Finnegan said that the Officer Candidate School he attended was more of a screening process, to see if the candidates were worth more investment of the military’s time and money.

However, Finnegan is not sure that he wants to be a career Marine.

“I could get financial assistance, but I chose not to, because it adds time to my contract. I want to keep my options open,” said Finnegan.

Finnegan is planning to go to graduate school, although not immediately after graduating from Whitman. For now, he’s going to be a soldier.