Editor’s Note: Second Lieutenant Olaolu Ogunyemi graduated from Grambling State University Dec. 14 and will accept a commissioning into the United States Marine Corps as the first officer from the university in more than three decades. He will join the ranks of countless other officers who have led Marines since 1775.
So, you are now a leader of Marines, what does that mean to you?
Being a leader of Marines is an honor. It means being a well-respected leader in the community. As a leader of Marines, it is my responsibility to constantly look out for the well-being of my Marines and peers and encourage them to perform as efficiently and effectively as possible.
What was your decision point in choosing to be a Marine officer? Why the Marines?
It was always an aspiration of mine to become a Marine Officer. However, graduating salutatorian of my small class at Simsboro High School, I have always been taught to view the military in general as a last resort. One night, during my junior year in college, I realized though I was doing fairly well in college, no one was stopping me from living out my dream to be a Marine but me. So, I did research on the Marine Corps and the opportunities available and was intrigued. Therefore, I contacted a recruiter.
How will this decision affect your family?
Initially, like any other family, my family was a bit frightful at the idea that their sibling/son had decided to join the Marines. However, after conducting their own research and talking to Marines, their fears have subsided. My family is very proud of me and supportive of my decisions.
How has this path to becoming a Marine officer changed you personally?
In just this small amount of time, I have developed and matured more as a leader. As a leader, it is my responsibility to grow my followers and create an environment where they can maximize their individual potential. This is part of looking after their well-being. Also, I have developed more confidence throughout the process. Since my initial conversation with my recruiter, I have given a myriad of speeches and sat through several interviews following which those observing have commended me for my confidence and poise throughout the interview or speech. Personally this path to becoming a marine officer has sharpened my leadership skills to make me very marketable in both the Marine Corps and the civilian workforce.
What is the legacy of the Marine Corps in your words?
The Marine Corps is a highly-trained and elite fighting force in which members have a fraternal bond and look after one another on and off the battlefield. Marines are the first to fight and are known for winning battles and having a very sharp appearance. This legacy is one that should be respected and recognized as one of the most memorable legacies in the world.
What are your career goals as a Marine officer?
As a Marine officer I do hope to retire as a Marine officer. Currently, I hope to work in the field I am receiving my undergraduate degree in; however, I am still open to explore the many opportunities that are offered.
Has your heritage affected your decision to becoming a Marine?
I would not say my heritage has affected my decision to become a Marine. I feel my decision was more of a reflection of my upbringing in a highly competitive home with five siblings. I have always searched for a challenge and I felt being a Marine officer presents an everyday challenge for me.
You are the first Marine officer to be commissioned from your school in more than three decades. What’s your reaction to that?
I am honored to have the opportunity to be one of the first Marine officers to be commissioned here at Grambling State University; however, I hope that this serves as an eye-opener to my fellow graduates, future graduates, parents, and prospective students. We should always discover the many opportunities there are in today’s society by doing our own research. Many simply rely on the stereotype of Marines and live in fear rather than learn about the opportunities the Marine Corps has to offer.
Where did you grow up, spend your childhood?
I grew up in the Ruston/Grambling, LA area. I grew up in a rural area where there was really not much to do, so I turned to athletics. I spent a lot of my recreational time playing basketball at the local outdoor courts in Ruston, and the rest of my time I spent playing football, racing, and wrestling my three brothers in our yard. I spent the early years of elementary at Alma J. Brown Elementary in Grambling, La., before transferring to Simsboro High School for most of my education spending only my freshman and sophomore year of high school at Ruston High School.
Have any of your family members served in the military? If so who, and which branches of services?
None of my immediate family has served in the military. However, I do have a very influential uncle that served as an Infantryman in the United States Army during Vietnam, Pfc. William E. Burse.
What advice or words of wisdom can you offer to young teens who may be considering your same path?
Firstly, never have tunnel vision on the one thing you want to do. Always educate yourself on other options. Once you figure out this is the path you wish to pursue, find people that have already done what you aspire to do and be humble enough to allow them to mentor and develop you into what you want to be. Also, I live by the quote, “to be the best, you must train harder than the best!” This quote does not only apply to the physical training aspect but also to the academic and mental training as well. Lastly, never allow anyone to plan your life or career. You are the master of your own fate.