Pursuing Dream Through Marine Corps
by U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Emily Kirk
Who said there is only one correct path to achieving your goals
There are many ways to accomplish your goals and when life does
not go as planned, do not give up, stay focused, and find a
That is how Private Kristofer Maldonado, a 2016 graduate of
Nipomo High School, became a Marine. Maldonado started working with
the Marines of Recruiting Sub-Station (RSS) San Luis Obispo, which
is a part of Recruiting Station Los Angeles, in March 2020.
U.S. Marine Corps Pvt. Kristofer Maldonado, a Marine recruited from Recruiting Sub-Station San Luis Obispo, Recruiting Station Los Angeles, achieves his dreams by becoming a United States Marine.
Maldonado is a native from Arroyo Grande, California and graduated from Nipomo High School. The Marine Corps allowed Maldonado to achieve his dream of becoming a military policemen. (U.S. Marine Corps photo illustration by Sgt. Emily Kirk
- August 12, 2020)
Previously in 2015, he pursued a military career with another
branch of service, but decided he was not ready to enlist at that
time. Over the next five years, Maldonado pursued his love for
music, higher education, and his dreams of becoming a police
"I’ve played piano, guitar, and drums off and on
since I was 8, but I play guitar in my band. When I was home, my
band would play almost every weekend or as much as we could, given
busy schedules. I would say I was pretty involved. The band name is
GrandAve. I plan on playing with GrandAve as long as I can or as
long as the Corps will allow me to," said Maldonado.
played throughout college at a local venue and they become
increasingly more popular. They also started opening for some known
artists. College started becoming less of a priority because his
focus was on work more than going to class.
Maldonado described work as an essential part to basically live and
survive. They would play a lot on the weekends, but eventually the
lead singer had to have throat surgery, which lead the band to be
out of gigs for a while.
That's when everything came to a
standstill. The band wasn't playing, he didn't finish school, and
Maldonado was just working to live. He considered the police
academy, but it was costly and he was unable to get sponsored by a
police department to help pay for the training.
“I knew what
the long-term goal was, and that was becoming a police officer, but
I did not know the steps to take to get there,” said Maldonado. “I
started college right out of high school to get my criminal justice
degree and to join a police department. The years went by and
ultimately, everything was put on hold; music, school, police
Maldonado found himself in the same position he had
been five years ago, heading to the Military Career Center. This
time, he went to talk to the Marines of RSS San Luis Obispo.
Maldonado met with Marine Corps recruiters, Staff Sgt. Joseph Torres
and Gunnery Sgt. Gabriela Garcia. “When I was done talking, they
both chimed in and gave me their opinions on the Marine Corps and
the different opportunities. I felt part of the ‘brother and
sisterhood’ the Marine Corps has to offer right off the bat.” Soon
thereafter, Maldonado had met all the Marines from the RSS.
“If these are the types of people the Marine Corps is producing,
these are the types of people I want to be around,” said Maldonado.
The Delayed Entry Program (DEP) provides young men and women the
opportunity to enlist in the Marines even though they might not go
to recruit training for a year. The DEP has weekly meetings with
their recruiters to ensure they are continuously making strides to
prepare each young man and woman for recruit training.
Station Commander Staff Sgt. Velazquez invited Maldonado to attend
one of their DEP meetings. “Staff Sergeant told me, ‘You’re more
than welcome to come, and if you decide you want to join, we’ll get
you in and even try to help you get the Military Occupational
Specialty you want,’” said Maldonado. “They jumped over the moon to
get me what I wanted, and that is military police. Staff Sgt.
Velasquez fought tooth and nail to secure that for me and he didn’t
have to. I’ve really seen them go above and beyond to be a good
Staff Sgt. Velazquez recognized the determination
within Maldonado during the first few minutes of meeting. Afterwards
the two worked together to set goals needed to be achieved over the
“I gave him a goal to lose weight and increase
his pull-ups, and he accomplished that in no time. Every milestone I
set for him after that, he not only achieved, but he exceeded it,”
Maldonado is not sure if he will serve as an
active duty Marine for five, 10, or 20 years.
does know, “Without a doubt, any police department would want to
take me because of the resume the Marine Corps has given me,” said
Maldonado earned the title of Marine on on July
31, 2020. Filled with a sense of pride and belonging, he knows
becoming a Marine will benefit his life in more ways than he could
Learn more about becoming a Marine
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Marines - The Few, The Proud |
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