A Marine Scout Sniper’s Journey to College Education
By Gunnery Sergeant Andrew Sullivan
Special to InMilitaryEducation.com
The Discovery Channel wanted to do a series on the toughest military schools. One of the first elite schools for warriors that comes to mind for most, whether a civilian or military member, is the Scout Sniper Basic Course. It is well known that Marine Scout Snipers are the best in world. With that as a starting point, the staff of the Discovery Channel reached out to the best Sniper School in the Marine Corps, which is here in Camp Pendleton California. In the last three years, we have gained the attention of the public winning international and inter-service sniper competitions as well as traveling overseas and showing the world our proficiency and talent. In addition, we have always had the public eye because we are the deadliest weapons in the Department of Defense (DoD) inventory. Even with all these things going on I was finally pursuing something very important and arguably essential in any military members career, and that is education.
Growing up through the ranks, I always said to myself that I just do not have the time to attend college. This is not true. The Marine Corps provides money and opportunities for anyone interested in higher-level learning. With the help of the staff at the Joint Education Center, I have been attending American Military University for about two years now with a goal of a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. I intend to follow that with a Master’s Degree. I chose psychology because I believed it would not only provide a higher level of learning, but would also assist me in my profession of sniping. I am not only a better Marine but also a better Scout Sniper for it. The Marine Corps provides over $4,500 dollars in tuition assistance each year and provides a staff trained to answer all questions I may have about college. This is only a very small part of what they actually provide.
You, the Marine interested in education, must make the first step. You must have dedication to education as well. In my own situation, this meant balancing being the Chief Instructor at Scout Sniper School, a single father with two beautiful children, and a college student. It is a challenge to say the least!
Time management and dedication will get you on your way to a degree in whatever field you chose. It is not always easy, but worth it. After a long day training Marines or coming out of the field, I find myself taking care of my children and the house while squeezing in reading and assignments. At times, I have to wait for the children to go to sleep before I can really hit the books.
My advice for Marines is to first, utilize the wonderful staff at one of the three Camp Pendleton Education Centers. You should also speak with your Education Officer at the Company or Battalion level.
I would like to give special thanks to Jill Ventrone and the other wonderful counselors on staff of the SOI Education Center. For you infantry Marines, get in to see these counselors. Just because it seems like the infantry consumes every second of your life, you can still make it happen, you can still decimate the enemy while becoming smarter,and, if you can survive the cut, try out for a Scout Sniper Platoon!
Gunnery Sergeant Andrew Sullivan is currently stationed at Camp Pendelton in San Diego, CA.
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