By Katie Smith

Summer break is the time for most college students to rest, vacation, lie by the pool, sleep late, etc. But for a select few, summer is spent a little differently.

This summer I completed the first six weeks of a very difficult experience: Marine Corps Officer Candidate School (OCS) located in Quantico, Va.  

All potential Marine Corps officers must endure the grueling training led by Marine Corps staff noncommissioned officers and successfully complete it.

Upon arrival at OCS, every candidate was evaluated on a basis of leadership, academics and physical fitness. Leadership was 50 percent of the candidates’ overall grade, while academics and physical fitness were both 25 percent.  

The leadership grade was comprised of grades received on candidate billets (leadership positions in the platoon) and several different leadership assignments.

Physical fitness was comprised of several courses such as the obstacle course, stamina course, muscular endurance course and regular physical training sessions.

Academics were based on a wide range of subjects such as drill, history, weapons, etc.

All throughout OCS, the staff noncommissioned officers were determining if you possessed the necessary qualities to lead Marines. Not only were you required to possess the traits, but also excel at them. All those that embark on the journey will not complete OCS. There is a reason why Marines are the FEW and the PROUD.

I come from a military family and wanted to join a branch, so I decided to follow in my dad’s footsteps and be a Marine. I wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself, give back to this country and take advantage of my time. I was always looking for a good challenge. And by taking this on, I found an amazing challenge.

A friend of mine told me about the program, which is a Platoon Leaders Class (PLC) completed over the course of three years. I was planning on quitting school to become a Marine, but when I found out I could stay in school and become a Marine Corps officer, I was immediately interested.

You start the program as a freshman or sophomore, when you go to OCS for six weeks one summer and six weeks another summer. As a junior, you attend the 10-week combined program one time. Upon completion of these programs and college graduation, you receive a commission as a second lieutenant.

As a senior, you can go through Officer Candidate Course (OCC). This is the same thing as PLC, but for those who are about to graduate or have graduated college. Upon completion of this program and college graduation, you receive a commission and begin active duty at The Basic School, also in Quantico, Va.

At OCS, there were many things I liked and disliked. The women in the India Company First platoon are like sisters to me now. The camaraderie is amazing.

The discipline was bothersome at first, but soon I realized I could not live without it. From the way I stood, sat, ate and respected those above me, it was all very important.

At first, I disliked a lot of things about OCS, but soon got into the swing of things. Getting up yelling at 5 a.m. was an everyday thing. Physical fitness was always a challenge, but I craved that challenge. It didn’t get easier, but those in my platoon kept me going. Looking around at the brave other men and women with me at OCS was motivation in itself.

The experience overall was amazing. I wouldn’t change it for anything and am excited to continue with the program.

If you or anyone you know are interested in becoming a Marine Corps officer, join EKU Semper Fi Society on OrgSync, email katherine_smith246@mymail.eku.edu.