12/1/2005 By Sgt. Tiffany Carter, 4th Marine Corps District
Woodbridge, Va. —
Lance Cpl. Peter DeGeuss knows the difficulties of trying to balance school full-time and work part-time. He’s been doing it for the past five years. After he graduated high school he started taking classes at his local community college. Shortly after enrolling he decided to join the Marine Corps. He enlisted in the fall of 1999, but due to a wrist injury he was discharged before he could complete recruit training.
DeGeuss went back home to try college again. He worked several different jobs from waiting tables to working construction, managing a movie theater, working as a security guard and in his college’s bookstore. He eventually moved from California to Virginia to avoid further distractions at home. Even in Virginia, DeGeuss had to balance school and work.
“School is not an easy thing to do, especially when you’ve got to make money in order to survive,” said DeGeuss. “The Marine Corps kind of gives you that option. They take care of you, and at the same time, provide money for school.”
Not only are you better able to focus on your studies without having to worry about how your going to pay for it, but there are many programs available for free, he continued.
“They have all kinds of education programs on base. The thing I like the most is that you can take (College Level Examination Program) tests for free,” said DeGeuss.
The CLEP provides students of any age with the opportunity to demonstrate college-level achievement through a program of exams in undergraduate college courses.
But getting through college takes much more than money, it takes dedication and commitment, which are two traits DeGeuss gained from his training at Parris Island.
“You go through something like this (boot camp) and then back to school, you’re more focused,” said DeGeuss. “Joining the reserves was the best thing I could have done. Now I can go to school and work and do what I need to do.”
DeGeuss eventually came back to the Marine Corps after five years of working and school.
“I came into the office three years ago, and everyone said no because of my discharge. But I walked into the Woodbridge recruiting office and brought in my college transcripts and certificate from the firefighter academy. They looked at all of it, thought it was worth a shot, made some phone calls and now here I am.”
It was definitely worth a shot, especially since it was DeGeuss’ second time through boot camp and now he had something to prove. He graduated earlier this year as the platoon honor grad, receiving a meritorious promotion to Lance Corporal.
Through his experience, DeGeuss learned a valuable life lesson.
“If I could have done this sooner, I would have. Because sitting around and working dead-end jobs or screwing off in school and not actually getting it done, you’re just actually wasting your time.”