From Student to Marine Corps Officer-in-Training

Posted by Janae Melvin on October 15, 2015 in Business, Economics, Marines, Ottawa, Quantico  Jacyn Dawes didn’t know what to expect when she signed up for summer officer candidate school with the United States Marine Corps during the summer of 2015. A junior from Garden City, KS, double majoring in business economics and communications with a concentration in speech performance, she thought it looked like a good opportunity and it paid better than any other summer job she found.

Dawes has an interest in politics, one she attributes to many years of participation in debate. The more she considered a career in politics, the more she realized how valuable it would be to have military experience.

“Something I believe very strongly in is that the higher up you get in the political arena, the more important it is to have a military background,” she said. “People who make decisions about the military don’t always have the background to be making those decisions. They don’t understand what military personnel are going through.”

She spent six weeks in Quantico, V.A., and will spend six more weeks there in the summer of 2016. If she graduates, she can attend officer school TBS (The Basic School), which is a course designed to provide students with the basic skills necessary to effectively lead as a Marine officer. Upon completion of this program, Dawes would automatically earn the rank of 2nd Lt. in the Marine Corps.

The first six weeks were tough. Dawes said people warned her about the lack of sleep that comes with the experience but she really didn’t think it would be that bad. It didn’t take long before she was learning to function on two to three hours of sleep each night.

“My days would begin at 6 a.m. with physical training. The rest of the day was classes and drills,” Dawes said. “Fifty percent of the work is leadership based with a lot of activities.”

She’s currently training for her next six weeks and says it only gets harder now. Eventually, Dawes would like become a Marine Corps JAG (Judge Advocate General) and practice military law.

“In military law, you have to be prepared to do work on all types of cases,” Dawes said. “The scariest part of all of this is not knowing where I will end up. People tell a lot of great stories about traveling the world, but for me, I really don’t like not knowing where I will be located.”

Dawes first considered OU when she was invited to participate in the Top Scholars Competition. The competition consists of an advanced portfolio submission and judging, followed by an essay and interviews with OU’s president, faculty, administrators and students. Dawes earned the Presidential Scholarship, the highest Top Scholars award, and made the decision to enroll at OU.

Dawes did not know anyone on campus when she arrived at OU, but from the moment she arrived she was welcomed by all and has made so many great friends.

“The people are why I’ve stayed at OU. The people here are the kinds of people you want to get to know and spend time with.”

She originally thought about a business administration major, but after taking Dr. Russ McCullough’s microeconomics class, she quickly changed her mind and her degree plans.
“The faculty here are amazing,” she said. “I really enjoy the events Dr. McCullough hosts, especially his book club. He’s someone that enjoys talking about different subjects and how economics has an impact on the topic that’s begin discussed.”

In addition to her coursework, Dawes is also a member of the dance team and competes in debate and forensics. In 2014, she won the state championship in After-Dinner Speaking – persuasive speech using humor – and took second at nationals.

For Dawes, school has always been an escape. A safe place she could go to and get away from what she says was a difficult home life while growing up. Ottawa University changed her life.

“Coming from the background I came from, I wouldn’t have been able to afford a four-year school,” she said. “OU is the place that gave me that opportunity. A chance to earn the degree I’ve always wanted. I’m grateful to the University for that.”