Lee’Darrion McDougle made his decision to join the military in a round-about way. He finished high school with a certificate of attendance, and he found a job soon after at Southern Hens. He decided quickly that wasn’t the path for him and moved on to a job at Howard Industries where some of his co-workers discussed their plans with him about joining the Army.
“They talked about benefits like the military paying for college, teaching you a trade, and letting you travel the world. That sounded like a good path for me, too!” he said.
Those guys were interested in the Army, one of McDougle’s old high school teachers had been in the Air Force, and he spoke with a former Navy sailor after he decided the military was the right route for him, but he ultimately decided that the Marines was the branch he would like to join. “The Marines take a lot of pride in being a Marine. Plus, I like the feeling they promote of being a family,” said McDougle.
The next step Lee’Darrion took to accomplish this goal that he had set for himself was to check in with his old high school counselor to ask her where to begin. He sought out a Marine recruiter online, and his counselor let him know that he had to have a high school diploma or GED to join the military. That is when she directed him to the Wayne County location of the Jones College Adult Education program.
There, he was able to participate in the Out of School Youth program, which allowed him to receive soft skills training through a Smart Start class. That program also helped him to get a job at the Samaritan’s Closet while he was working on his High School Equivalency. Lee’Darrion first thought it would be a quick, one to two-month process to get his GED, but he remained in the program a little over a year. “I don’t mind the hard work. I like a challenge, and this program really made me push myself. I think it has helped prepare me to take on the challenge of joining the military!” said McDougle.
Things moved quickly once Lee’Darrion got the news he had passed the final portion of the HISET exam on March 1. He contacted his recruiter and attended a two-day event at a Military Entrance Processing Station. There he completed the ASVAB, underwent a physical, submitted paperwork, and was sworn in. He also got his ship date for basic training, which was originally set for April but was bumped up to March 14th at Lee’Darrion’s request.
When asked about his plans for the future, McDougle said there were a lot of options to consider. “I’m not sure if I will make a career out of the military or just serve my four years. I’m interested in possibly becoming an entrepreneur or taking advantage of the military offering to pay for my college!”
All in all, Lee’Darrion feels like the Jones College Adult Education program has been very beneficial to him, and he is thankful for all of the support that was shown to him by the staff. Whether it was Ms. Curly and Ms. Courtney smiling and speaking to him in the mornings, Mr. Reed helping him get the job at the Samaritan’s Closet, or Ms. Carla teaching him how to write an essay to pass the HSE, he said they were all “encouraging and helpful.”
To other people who might find themselves in Lee’Darrion’s shoes, he said, “If you really want it, you’ll have it. Keep pushing. Pray that God will help you, and if that’s what He wants you to do—you’ve got no choice but to do it. It’ll pay off. It paid off for me!”
We at the Jones Adult Education program are wishing Lee’Darrion luck as he leaves for Parris Island, SC on Monday, March 14. We cannot wait to celebrate even more success with you as you embark on your future as a Marine!