My grandfather was a Marine. He joined in January 1941. He fought in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. To me he was one of the heroes of the country. I wanted to be just like him. August 30, 1995 was the day my life changed forever. It was the day I stepped off the bus at the Marine Corps Training Depot, San Diego. I was nervous, I didn’t know what to expect. I was facing rumors and legends. I was attempting to join the ranks of legendary men. Men like John Basilone, Smedley Butler, Chesty Puller, and John Quick. These were the men who took Belleau Wood and Iwo Jima. The type of men who inspired others yet made you feel small in comparison. These men were bigger than life. The next weeks presented many challenges. I was asked to do things I had never done. I was required to learn new things and then develop a mastery of my new skill. It was necessary to change the way I thought about things and to apply new solutions to problems I had never thought existed. I graduated stronger and sharper than I had ever been in my life. I was proud of what I had achieved, but quickly realized that no matter how good I was, there was always someone better. I spent the next years learning all I could from those better than myself and passing on what I learned to those below me. I am proud to call myself a Marine.
Most of the land on Earth has been explored. We have been to the highest peaks and the deepest jungles. We have stood on the North Pole and crossed Antarctica. However the sea remains largely unexplored. I have always wanted to explore the oceans. Upon entrance to the School of Oceanography at the University of Washington, the process began again. Now it was January 6, 2006, and my life was changing again. I was nervous, I didn’t know what to expect. I was attempting to join the ranks of the men and women who explored the seas. These were the people who dispelled the rumors and hunted for the truth. These were legendary scientists and explorers. People like Augustus Siebe, Jacques Piccard, Don Walsh, Deb Kelley, and John Delaney. These are the ones who went deep into the ocean, who discovered where the current flows, who followed the hurricanes, and who have mapped the depths. The types of people who make you feel small and dumb by comparison. The years ahead presented many challenges. I was asked to do things I had never done. I was required to learn new things and then develop a mastery of my new skill. It was necessary to change the way I thought about things and to apply new solutions to problems I had never thought existed. I have been becoming stronger and sharper than I have ever been in my life. I am proud of what I have achieved, but have quickly realized that no matter how good I am, there is always someone better.
Now I am looking at graduation. In September 2008 my life will change again. There are seas of opportunity ahead of me. Am I up to the task? Will I become like my heroes? Only time will tell. I am nervous. I don’t know what to expect. Am I really qualified to follow in these footsteps? I still feel small in comparison, and I see many challenges ahead. Where does the ship go from here? What mystery shall I peruse? To whom shall I turn for further knowledge? Will I be able to do these new things, master new skills, and solve these new problems? Will I be able to call myself an Oceanographer?