Many college students interested in joining the U.S. Marines Corps jump into an ROTC program at college, giving themselves the necessary training and prep work to excel in the Marines later. And yet, while Christendom College does not have its own ROTC program, students at the college are still excelling in the application process and impressing recruiters due to the college’s rigorous education and challenging athletic program and the Marine Corps Officer Candidate School.
This year, four Christendom seniors are applying to be Marine Corps officers post-graduation: Jerome Norton, Nicolas del Rosal, Felice Litterio, and Tim Marra. Each followed their own path to discerning a career in the Marines, but each came to a similar conclusion: their experience at Christendom was key for preparing them for such a career choice.
“The general formation of virtue compiled with the Catholic fraternity that Christendom offers has greatly helped to form my character as a man,” remarks del Rosal. “This aided me in more ways that I initially thought when going through screening questions and application process. I can’t tell you how many times the recruiters have told me, ‘Man, we love Christendom guys!’”
These students are following in the footsteps of past alumni who have also made the jump to the Marines after college, including alumnus James Wright (’16). The recruiters near Christendom’s campus have found Christendom applicants to have many of the same great qualities: very respectful, good GPAs, and also an excellent track record with the Marines’ physical fitness test.
For Jerome Norton and Tim Marra, playing on Christendom’s rugby team has proven to be an excellent way to stay in shape while at school, making excelling at the PFT possible. Christendom’s athletic programs demand a high level of conditioning, along with responsibility. Norton is team captain for the Crusader rugby team, and the role has provided him with the leadership skills he believes will help him do well in the Marines.
“Rugby was a huge help in preparing me for the Marines,” says Norton. “Playing the sport kept me in shape and kept me motivated. I didn’t have the opportunity for a lot of other leadership roles previously, so being captain on the rugby team is incredibly helpful. In a platoon, you have to be a leader, so gaining that leadership experience on the rugby team was great.”
Being the head of the Christ’s Cross Boxing Club was a real boon for Litterio. It kept him in shape and gave him a unique leadership position as well. Christendom’s education helped him even more, both in terms of communication and in organization.
“The unique and unrivaled classroom education at Christendom has helped me gain better control over my day to day schedule, as well as be able to confidently and calmly hold any oral interview with the recruiting officers,” says Litterio. “Ever since I was a young lad, I wanted to serve in the military in some capacity. This became a more pressing desire as I came closer and closer to senior year. I knew that I would be able to fulfill my duty as a citizen of the United States and to give back to this country. And I believe, with my liberal arts education from Christendom College, and the college experience as a whole, that I am best suited for the Marine’s officer program.”
If they are accepted, the alumni will go into Officer Candidate School soon after graduation this May and remain there for ten weeks. After being commissioned as Second Lieutenants, they will report to The Basic School—also at Quantico—for the 28 week Basic Officer Course. Then they report to their MOS (military occupational speciality) qualification course, such as Infantry Officer Course, Flight School, Armor, Artillery, Engineer, Motor Transport, Communication, Supply, or other officer course.
The four of them will not hear an official answer from the Marine Corps until the spring, but simply going through and excelling at the application process has been a great help to them all, proving the value of their time at Christendom and setting themselves up well for whatever their future holds.