Q&A with Alyssa Alfano (‘14)

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Alyssa Alfano (‘14) poses at the Marine table during lunches on March 12. Alfano graduated as a junior and went on to boot camp in the fall to become a Marine.

Hannah Reed

Q: What is it like coming back to school as a Marine during what would have been your senior year if you hadn’t graduated as a junior?

A: “Honestly it’s really weird because that was me not even a year ago. [Considering] how much I’ve changed just in three months, it’s weird to see my friends that are seniors now and compare myself to them because I’ve gotten more discipline [and] more self confidence, things I never really got from high school. Coming back and seeing all of them, I’ve just matured so much more.”

Q: Can you describe what it was like to go to boot camp?

A: “I went to Parris Island, S.C., For the first month, because bootcamp is 13 weeks and you’re there for 90 days, the first five weeks you are stripped of your individuality. You can’t say me, myself, I, we. You’re this recruit and these recruits. You’re basically broken down. The entire first phase, I kept thinking, “Why am I here? What am I doing here? I should have just went to college,”’ but then you look to the left and right of you and realize that everyone there is suffering just as much as you are. Everyone there misses home. Everyone there is having a bad time. Everyone’s getting screamed at, and that’s what motivates you. That’s what drives you to stay. During second and third phase you go to the rifle range. You go to the gas chamber. You rappel off the tower. You do the confidence course. You do all these things to help you get ready for combat and to feel more confident in yourself and realize how much you’ve changed during the first five weeks of boot camp. Then we do The Crucible. It’s 56 hours, and you have a 90-pound pack. You get two hours of sleep. After you complete The Crucible, that’s the first time you’re called a United States Marine. That’s when you can start saying I, me, my [and] us again. It’s something that I can’t even put into words to compare to anything in the civilian world. It’s just something that I’ll never be able to explain to anyone else unless they went through it too. It was the proudest moment of my entire life. Seeing my parents’ faces for the first time at graduation when they saw me walk across the parade deck as a United States Marine was something I’ll never forget.”

Q: What’s your favorite part about being a Marine?

A: “My favorite part about being a Marine is probably the sisterhood. I only had a few close friends throughout high school, and to be able to see another Marine and be like, “Hey brother,” or, “Hey sister,” and know that without even hesitating that they would take a bullet for you is something that someone in the civilian world wouldn’t do. Going up to another Marine, you instantly have that connection. You instantly have that bond.”

Q: What advice would you give for anyone who wants to become a Marine?

A: “Any advice that I have would be start working out, talk to a recruiter, and explore all your options. Realize that college isn’t the only route. Even if you want to go to college, you’re able to go to college in the Marine Corps. Just explore your options.”