CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. - Looking for a purpose in life comes with more responsibility and initiative. That's what Pfc. Cory Stevens did. Instead of going to Penn State with a full-ride scholarship for academics and swimming, he decided the Marine Corps would provide the best foundation for someone like himself.
Stevens, a rifleman with Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, and native of Buffalo, New York, did not have it easy growing up. Shuffling from one household to the next to avoid being mistreated and overseeing the well-being of his sisters was not easy.
“I lived with my aunt until I was 12,” said Stevens. “I was adopted into my new family and stayed with them until I was 16. I received a full-ride scholarship to Penn State; however I felt that the Marine Corps was the right choice.”
Stevens knew the Marine Corps offered him a stronghold, and life lessons he can use the rest of his life.
Being a strong swimmer, Stevens' plans include becoming a Marine Corps Instructor of Water Survival (MCIWS) as well as starting general education college courses in the near future.
“I wanted to show my sisters that they could achieve whatever they set their minds to,” said Stevens. “I want to be a good role model for them.”
Stevens' dad was in the Army while some of his friends joined other branches. It was when Stevens was a (then) freshman and a friend of his, a senior in high school, led Stevens to follow his pursuit to become a United States Marine.
“I got through boot camp. The physical aspect wasn't a surprise for me since I'd already been swimming a lot,” said Stevens. “It was the mental aspect that got to me; taking charge of others' mistakes and playing mind games. I knew how to take care of myself. It was a big change taking responsibility for everyone else around me.”
The Infantry Training Battalion School of Infantry-East yielded its own challenges to conquer. It was up to the individual Marine to create a schedule that worked. Time in the classroom was spent getting familiarized on different weapons systems that included the M249 SAW, M16A4 service rifle, and the M203 Grenade Launcher.
“I really do see a difference in myself from before I joined and now,” said Stevens. “At first, I couldn't look into someone's eyes when I spoke with them. Then there's the motivation and initiative, and doing things I need to do when I'm supposed to.”
Stevens is gearing up for an upcoming Marine Expeditionary Unit deploying in over a year, that is his focus from here on out.
Article and photo by U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Immanuel Johnson
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