FORT SNELLING, Minn. --
When the last bell rings and the school year finally comes to a close, most high school students are content to spend their summers sleeping in, playing video games or lounging on the beach. There are some, however, that want more out of life. For those with a little more drive and determination to continue their path to success, the United States Marine Corps proudly offers a unique opportunity to learn leadership skills from those who have perfected them. The program is called the Summer Leadership and Character Development Academy. When offered the chance to participate, one Mankato East sophomore didn’t hesitate to seize it.
The SLCDA is a week-long leadership program designed to challenge our nation’s top-performing high school students. The purpose of the academy is to develop citizens who are not afraid to put service above themselves and return them to their communities as higher quality individuals. This is accomplished by sharing the Marine Corps experience with the selected students. The attendees will be fully immersed into the daily training schedule similar to what Marines go through with courses on topics such as physical fitness, and scenario-based reaction exercises.
While there were many qualified applicants for this exclusive program, one student stood out among the rest. Sebastian Munera first heard about the SLCDA from his Marine Corps recruiter, Sgt. Ramiro Trevino, and saw the academy as a perfect fit. Munera had been participating in weekly physical fitness training with the Mankato recruiting office since he was 14 years old and has had is heart set on being a Marine since.
“I want to be a Marine because I want to challenge myself and I want to better my self-discipline,” said Munera. “I have built a brotherhood with [the other future Marines] and with my recruiters and they have helped me to improve and motivated me to get better.”
Munera not only stood out among those who planned on joining the Marines, but among his fellow classmates and student athletes as well.
“Whether as a student or as an athlete, Sebastian has always modeled what it means to give your best effort in all situations.” Said Jon Dierks, the Mankato East Wrestling Coach. “His mentality and work ethic can really help change a wrestling team within a couple years and I have seen others modeling themselves after him.”
Despite being involved in multiple sports, extracurricular activates, volunteer opportunities and a part time job, Munera’s academic record still shines.
“He is a smart, talented, and determined individual,” said Luisa Hernández, the Mankato East Spanish teacher. “He shows incredible focus and preparedness at school. Sebastian is able to juggle a wide range of challenges while keeping his eye on the ultimate goal; getting into the U.S. Armed Forces.”
During the SLCDA, Munera hopes to continue to develop his leadership skills and become more prepared for life as a Marine. He hopes to become a squad leader or platoon guide in boot camp when he attends recruit training after high school graduation in 2020.
“This opportunity could be a great experience for me because I will be pushed out of my comfort zone,” said Munera. “I will need to expand my way of thinking to think outside the box and to work around problems to find a good way to solve them. This skill could be helpful when I am in difficult situations or in stressful environments”
In the future, Munera plans to use his Marine Corps education benefits to become a dentist. The skills he will learn at the SLCDA will help prepare him for the challenges he will face on this path and as he continues on into the Marine Corps.