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A Future Marine 'Mustang'
by U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Sarah Ralph
May 25, 2020

Leadership is one of the many fundamentals that is instilled into a Marine during all stages of their career. There are some Marines who take on this role with pride and enjoy the aspect of helping and assisting others in the right direction.

The Marine Corps has two sides to their leadership spectrum.

There is the enlisted side of leadership where Marines can promote from Private all the way up to Sergeant Major or Master Gunnery Sergeant. The opposite side of the spectrum is the officer route, which goes from Second Lieutenant all the way up to a General.

Both of these have very important roles as far as guiding and leading Marines, but they are vastly different when it comes to decision making.

 The Marine Corps offers two types of programs for enlisted Marines ... if they desire to become an officer without breaking their active duty time; Marine Corps Enlisted Commissioning Education Program (MECEP) or Enlisted Commissioning Program (ECP).

Marines accepted to MECEP attend Officer Candidate School and head off to college to earn a degree of their choice before starting their career as a commissioned officer in the Corps. The ECP if for Marines who have already received their Bachelor’s degree and become commissioned officers after they finish OCS.

For U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Monique RomeroFlores, the best route for her was to apply for MECEP.

May 19, 2020 - U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Monique RomeroFlores, an officer selection assistant with Recruiting Station Orange County, decided to become a commissioned officer through the Marine Corps Enlisted Commissioning Education Program (MECEP) ... the 'mustang' route. The MECEP offers qualified enlisted Marines the opportunity to attend a four-year college full-time, while maintaining active duty status and pay and commission as a 2nd Lieutenant. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Sarah Ralph)
May 19, 2020 - U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Monique RomeroFlores, an officer selection assistant with Recruiting Station Orange County, decided to become a commissioned officer through the Marine Corps Enlisted Commissioning Education Program (MECEP) ... the 'mustang' route. The MECEP offers qualified enlisted Marines the opportunity to attend a four-year college full-time, while maintaining active duty status and pay and commission as a 2nd Lieutenant. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Sarah Ralph)

When asked what made her choose this change in her career she said, “I pride myself on being enlisted. Now that I have that foundation, I believe becoming an officer will allow me to look at both accounts in making decisions. This will help the Corps by allowing me to shape it the way I want it to because from what I’ve seen in my career. A lot of Marines would have been better impacted if they had stronger leaders. I chose this because I love the leadership aspect of the Marine Corps.”

RomeroFlores originally started a MECEP package to become an officer when she was a Corporal. At the time she did not complete her package due to not feeling the time was right. RomeroFlores currently serves as the officer selection assistant at Marine Corps Recruiting Station Orange County. She says that being here has helped reassure her that this is something she needed to do.

“Not only have I been influenced by the young officers that come out of this station, but being mentored by a group of strong mustangs within the command has helped me in pursuing this goal,” says RomeroFlores.

A 'mustang' is a term the armed services use in order to reference an officer who was once prior enlisted before commissioning.

The MECEP is a great opportunity for Marines who desire to become an officer because it allows them to relate to junior officers that have recently commissioned out of college. This opportunity can allow the individual to become a well-rounded leader and gives the life experience of attending a university full time. An experience that some enlisted never had due to joining right after high school.

RomeroFlores claims that her family is what drives her to improve not only herself, but her career. She has become the first female in her family to become a part of the military and she wants to be the example for her younger family members who are soon to graduate high school.

“I want to show people that they can evolve. A lot of people think the Marine Corps is a very complacent institution. You hear a lot of the time that it’s easy to stay in, but I want to say every time I’ve ranked up or accomplished something, I’m always looking to see what my next goal is. Becoming an officer is going to take me out of my comfort zone, but I will not let that deter me from having the potential of impacting so many lives down the line,” claims RomeroFlores.

There is never going to be a right time when it comes to making a big career choice. Life constantly puts obstacles into our lives and it’s our job to get over them. Make the change and leave the Corps a better place than when you got there, remarks RomeroFlores.

RomeroFlores plans to attend Denver College to finish her Bachelor’s Degree and hopes to become a logistics officer after completing her training.

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