Inside USD

USD Education, Military Are Closely Connected

Monday, December 19, 2011

A University of San Diego education and the actions of a United States Marine may not seem to have many commonalities, but Second Lieutenant John Moreno defines the connection.

“To say that I will have a degree from the University of San Diego means a lot to me,” said Moreno, an International Relations major who will graduate cum laude and aspires to be a college professor. “The role and support of the university for the ROTC program is noticed. It’s an academically demanding environment that prepared me well. I know whenever I’m challenged in the Marine Corps, it’ll be easy to draw back on my experiences at USD.”

Moreno (pictured, above) spoke shortly after Saturday’s NROTC San Diego Fall Commissioning Ceremony aboard the USS Midway Museum where 24 men, representing the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force and different local universities, were celebrated.

Moreno was one of four USD students — Second Lieutenants Angelo Alessio (Army) and Tony van der Zee (Marines, pictured at right) and Ensign William O’Quinn (Navy) are the others — to complete academic and ROTC commitments prior to their next assignment.

Moreno, who has pursued his passion to serve his country since reporting to San Diego’s Marine Corps Recruit Depot in December 1998, was on one of the first units to respond to a terrorist attack on the USS Cole in Yemen. His subsequent actions involve being a reconnaissance leader and platoon sergeant, helping other Marines at Camp Pendleton as a volunteer instructor for the Basic Reconnaissance course, and as a mentor, academics chief and platoon sergeant. He entered the Marine Enlisted Commissioning Education Program (MECEP) in 2008. He was initially at California State University, San Marcos, but soon transferred to USD for what he felt was a better academic fit.

Moreno expressed his appreciation for USD professors such as Pete Peterson, also a Marine, from whom he took a few of his major-related courses. Moreno said Peterson was a mentor and a role model.

“I found it easy to talk to him because of the brotherhood that exists between Marines,” Moreno said. “Also, he’s doing what I hope to one day become, a college professor. I only got to take two classes with him, but I did get to see the passion he has for what he does.”

But before Moreno can think too much about other career aspirations, he knows there’s some unfinished student business at USD: “I still have two final exams to take on Tuesday.”

Moreno’s USD military counterparts who were also feted during Saturday’s ceremony are preparing for their next step.

Second Lt. Alessio, who did his Army ROTC work through San Diego State University, earned a political science degree from USD. Alessio (pictured, above, right) will now attend the Engineer Officer Basic Course in Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.

Second Lt. Van der Zee, who earned an NROTC Marine Option Scholarship, arrived at USD in 2007 where he balanced his military commitments with his studies in the dual-degree Industrial and Systems Engineering program. His next assignment will be to report to The Basic School in Quantico, Va.

Navy Ensign O’Quinn (pictured, left) is another student officer who took pride in his active military commitments while also pursuing an engineering degree — mechanical engineering — at USD. Upon completion of his academic requirements this semester, he will be reporting to the USS Gettysburg (CG-64).

— Ryan T. Blystone

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