CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. - Cpl. Monica Rios, a food service specialist with Headquarters Regiment, 1st Marine Logistics Group, of Austin, keeps motivation so high she has won every meritorious board she has been on and is currently going on a sergeants board with less than three years of being in the Marine Corps.
Why did you join the Marine Corps?
I joined because I wanted to challenge myself and I knew joining the Marines would make me a step ahead of my peers. Even 30 years from now I will be a step ahead.
How has the Marine Corps impacted your life?
I am the person I am today because of the Marine Corps. I definitely learned a lot. I gained a lot and it’s changed and molded me into the person I am today.
What is the biggest thing the Marine Corps has brought to your life?
The biggest thing it has brought to my life is independence and strength. Here you learn to take care of yourself and others. You also have to be strong to be in the Marine Corps, not only physically but spiritually, mentally and emotionally. It has really given me strength in all those aspects, more than I could have imagined.
You have only been in for a little over two years, how has your career progressed so far?
I was second in my class in my school and a few months into the fleet I was put on a meritorious board, won it and then put on a corporal meritorious board won it and in a few months will be put on a meritorious sergeant’s boar d. I try telling my Marines it’s not always fun and it’s not all glamorous. You are only as strong as your weakest link. So if you can make it through those difficult times and keep your motivation it will really set you apart. How you see me on a good day is how I’m going to act on a bad day. I think I’ve been so successful because I keep that positive frame of mind in any situation and I don’t let the bad interfere with my train of thought or my work ethic.
Do you have any advice for Marines just starting out?
In my opinion, you just have to stay motivated. If people see that you are motivated and you are dedicated and you love what you’re doing it’s your no one has to look over your shoulder or micro manage you because they know you are actually enjoying yourself and you aren’t going to take shortcuts or take the easy way out. Always have a smile on your face and if you’re told to do something you don’t want to just suck it up and do what needs to be done.
What helps you to keep your motivation?
I can want to fall out of a run or just drop everything, but what really motivates me is my senior drill instructor Sgt. Smith. She told me a lot of stuff that stuck with me but the one thing that really stuck is that all the recruits are her legacy. I respect that woman with all that I am. She molded me to the Marine that I am, so when I do feel like quitting I think about her. I think how I am mirroring her image. For me, that is my motivation. Everything I do, if it’s not for me, it’s for her.
What are your goals in the Marine Corps?
My goals are not to stay in for 20 years but 30 years. I want to be a sergeant major. That would be my ultimate goal. I really want to be the sergeant major of 4th Recruit Training Battalion over at Parris Island. If you were to tell me right now that if I were to stay on the path that I’m on that I would become the sergeant major of 4th Bn. I would sign a contract for 28 more years. Right now my goal is to be a drill instructor. That’s my short term goal.
Do you feel that by keeping the attitude that you have will help your future in the Marine Corps?
If you are good at your job and a good Marine then the Marine Corps will reward you. It will reward you with more knowledge, more experience, more of a taste of the whole Marine Corps.
What makes you stand out from your peers?
I’ve had Marines come up to me with their problems and I advise them to approach it with this type of angle and they say they have, so I’ll tell them try this angle and again they say they’ve already tried it. So I ask them that if I’m doing the exact same thing and its working for me then what’s the difference between you and me? They tell me time and again it’s the motivation. Anybody can work hard but it takes that extra push to be recognized. You need to stand out. You need to make yourself stand above and apart from your peers. And that’s how I live.
What is the hardest thing about being a female in the Marine Corps?
I think the hardest thing is that because you have to strive to be like your male counterparts you can get so caught up in being a workaholic and dedicated that sometimes you can lose yourself because you are trying so hard to exceed all others. I think it’s important to remember who you are. Don’t lose sight of yourself. You forget to stop and focus on yourself.