At La Isla Magazine we follow the trail of stories and life experiences of our beloved Hispanic Community, which tell us about big dreams that come true thanks to the opportunities that this country offers. For this month’s edition, we had the pleasure to learn about one of those inspiring life experiences. His name is Bryan Velázquez, a 16-year-old Venezuelan who, thanks to the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps JROTC program, projects his dream of belonging to the United States Marine Corps from an early age. Let’s know your story.
La Isla Magazine. Welcome to La Isla Magazine Bryan, how are you?
Bryan. A/ Nice to meet you. Well, beginning the interview, I would like to say God Bless the United States of America. This country has given refuge to my family and me, who have escaped from a dictator and corrupt government. This country has given me many opportunities and opened many doors for me, so I am very grateful to be here.
La Isla Magazine. What better way to express that appreciation than by wearing a uniform that represents the United States Armed Forces? We know you are part of the JROTC program, a program that invites America’s young High School students to learn about the military and prepares them for leadership roles. Could you tell us about this program and how you came to be a part of it?
Bryan. A/ At Bluffton High School I am in my third year of JROTC. Thinking about my future, I always aspired to be a military man. From a very young age, I was fascinated by military movies and I am always watching or reading everything about military aircraft. When I was in Middle School, a friend told me that there was a JROTC program at our school and from there I started to find out. So I entered the early program that takes place in Bluffton schools, where they teach the basics of the JROTC program.
La Isla Magazine. Bryan, speaking of your story and what you want to project in your life, it is very interesting that our community is aware that these types of programs exist in public schools in the United States. How does a youth enroll and take advantage of the opportunities this program provides?
Bryan. A/ It is very easy, all you have to do is go to your guidance counselor at the school and let him know that you want to enroll in the JROTC program, so they are enrolled in the classes and start.
La Isla Magazine. We know that this program is conducted by instructors who are typically veterans of the Navy, Army, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. How has that experience been?
Bryan. A/ Yes, most of the time it is a veteran who teaches the classes. The experience is very good. My teacher is Colonel (r) Foster and he is more than a teacher, he is a guide, he has taught us everything: respect, attitude, and discipline. This is one of the best teachings of the program to apply what you have learned in all aspects of life.
La Isla Magazine. Without a doubt, the secret of a successful life is based on respect, attitude, and discipline. We greatly admire the mission of training young people with freedom of thought who contribute to the country. Bryan, have you thought about what force you want to be part of?
Bryan. A/ Yes, I want to start flying planes in the Marine Corps.
La Isla Magazine. I believe that several people have dreamed of belonging to the Marine Corps and we are precisely very close to them. Have you had the opportunity to visit Parris Island here in the Low Country?
Bryan. A/ Yes, thanks to some neighbors who are retired from the military I had the opportunity to enter the military base and I went crazy with emotion after I saw everything they offer there. Also, I was recently at Fort Jackson, because one of the things that the program offers is the opportunity to go to boot camp for a week. There is a lot of activity there, they teach you military training, they give you food from the military, and they disconnect you from the world because they take away your phone, in short, the whole military experience is a very beautiful experience.
La Isla Magazine. Magnificent! In the militia behind a uniform, more than respect for a country or an institution, a philosophy of life is forged. We have here in the background the Monument to Veterans that recognizes all those men who have contributed to society. You want to be a future sailor, a future pilot, and a future ambassador of democracy and freedom of the United States, so we wish you the greatest success in your military life. Finally, what message do you send to the youth of the United States?
Bryan. A/ I invite all the young people who are in High School to enter the programs offered by the school, such as the JROTC program because these can help them get scholarships and also live important experiences so that they become professionals in the University and in careers that you want to pursue. All the programs help in different areas of life, not necessarily for those who want to be in the military.
La Isla Magazine. Truly, you are a great example for our community. Thanks for joining us.