11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendelton,California.
My name is Sheila Solis and I have had the honor and privilege of being a United States Marine for the past two years. I am a first-generation American, born and raised in Newark, New Jersey from a family that emigrated from the beautiful country of Ecuador.
Being a Marine has provided me with so many opportunities I never thought I would have while giving me the strength and courage to confront any obstacle that comes my way. Being a Latina and a Marine makes me feel invincible. Like I’m a new breed of super woman who can dance bachata, make the best empanadas, and shoot at an expert level with my M16A4 service rifle.
Before joining the Marine Corps, I attended Seton Hall University as a nursing student and worked part-time as an assistant in the pre-school department at Marion P. Thomas Charter School. I enjoyed the many things life had to offer but what I enjoyed doing the most was spending time with my family and closest friends.
Living in the tristate area, I never had a dull moment enjoying the night life, shopping for the newest fashions, and trying all the amazing foods. Now I have to bring up food because as a true Latina, we all know we were raised right if we know how to cook like our abuelita! Which I love to do. I love to cook and give food to the families in the area. It is how I spread love, the Latina way!
I decided to join the Marine Corps after a semester of school when my family and I realized that affording a private university was too difficult. Although at the moment it was financially difficult, everything happened for a reason. And that reason led me to make one of the best decisions I have made in my life.
With my family’s support, I decided to become a U.S. Marine. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy and something I would have to work hard for, however, I also knew it would help me continue my educational dreams and ultimately help me become a stronger person.
After I became a Marine, I became conscious of how many fears I overcame. For the first time in my life, I was away from my family and everything I was ever used to. I have traveled all over the world and I’ve become an independent Latina representing both my family and country. It is one of the best feelings to know that everything I have achieved has been through all of the hard work I have put in.
I dreamt of visiting California and the Marine Corps not only gave me the opportunity to visit California, but to actually live there. It has given me an opportunity to visit different countries, experience new cultures and enroll in school once again. The Marine Corps has truly helped me accomplish all of my goals in ways I never expected. Being a Marine has not only helped me realize how much potential I have within myself, but it has also made me realize the influence my decisions have on the people around me.
Aside from all the positive impacts this decision has had in my life, it has also been a positive force to the people that look up to me. Having a big family that has many young Latinas seeking positive mentorship, my decisions are watched very closely and admired. Being someone our future generations look up to has become a sentiment I hold very dear to my heart. With my head held high and standing at attention, I have never felt as proud as I do this moment, as a Latina serving in the United States Marine Corps. OOH-RAH!