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Sunday, April 14, 2024 — Houston, TX

Student works to become Marine

By Brooke Bullock     9/22/11 7:00pm

Like any student nearing graduation, Lovett College junior Bianca Bealessio was contemplating what she would do with her chemical engineering major. To her, there were not many options. She could make money in industry – like the major oil companies – or she could make more money in industry. Neither option held much pull on her.

This thinking lead Bealessio to the conclusion that she would rather do something that benefited her country than concentrate on her own income. According Bealessio, there is no better option than the military, and within the military, the Marines are the best.

Training began last November for Bealessio, after she had looked into the Marine Officer Candidates School program the same month. She began physical training with the officer selection program with workouts held at Memorial Park several times a week at 6 a.m. for those interested in pursuing officer training school.

Scheduling around her other work was tough as well, she said. Since she is studying to be a chemical engineer, she has to work around problem sets and tests.

"I couldn't go every single day," Bealessio said. "It took a bit of planning to get the right amount of sleep."

After looking into the program, Bealessio had to compile an application for Marine Officer Candidate School. Bealessio worked with Captain James Winston, an officer selection officer here in Houston.

"The path to becoming an officer begins with the officer selection officer," Winston said. "My job is to identify those students who will be worthy candidates. I answer questions and help students decide which commissioning program best suits them."

To apply for OCS, you must be pursuing a college degree, Bealessio said. The application involves a physical fitness test, which includes a three-mile run, sit-ups and pull-ups for males or a flexed-arm hang for females.

"The highest possible score on the physical fitness test is a 300," Winston said. "For men, that means 20 pull-ups, 100 crunches in two minutes and an 18-minute three-mile run. For women, that means 70 seconds on a flexed-arm hang, 100 crunches in two minutes and a 21-minute three-mile run."

The minimum score to qualify is a 225, Winston said, but the combinations may change to achieve that score.

Academics and extracurriculars are also taken into account for the application, along with three to four recommendation letters. Then, applicants go to the Military Entrance Processing Station for a medical examination.

Once the application is together, Bealessio said, Winston submits it to a board, which decides whether it wants an applicant to attend OCS. The program is becoming increasingly competitive and many applicants do not make it to the board selection round, Winston said.

After that selection process, applicants attend OCS, of which Bealessio has completed the first six-week session. Winston said about 70 percent of male candidates and 50 percent of females make it through training.

"Bianca is in a pretty rare group," Winston said. "Out of a 100-candidate sampling population of females, only about 37 that apply successfully complete training."

During OCS, candidates are evaluated on leadership, academics and physical training, Winston said.

"To become an officer, you must excel at all three," Winston said. "For many students, the initial perception is that the toughest challenges will be physical, but I would say that the greatest challenge at OCS is learning to lead."

Bealessio's favorite part of OCS was the sense of camaraderie built during training. She said that she lived with the same group of people in close quarters for all six weeks, which built a strong sense of fellowship among them.

"There's no one you wouldn't do something for to keep them out of trouble or to help them do better on a test, whether you like someone or not," Bealessio said.

The next step for Bealessio is to go back to OCS in the summer for the second six-week program.

Rice alumni who have gone through the program include Lieutenant Sean Monks (Sid Rich '08) who received his commission while at University of Houston Law School and will attend The Basic School – the next step after accepting a commission – in January and will be an attorney. Other Rice alumni include Jeremy Larus (Jones '11) and Michael Clendenen (Brown '11), who will both be attending OCS in October – Larus as a future Marine Aviator and Clendenen as a future Ground Officer.

Bealessio will be honored before the Rice vs. Memphis game on Oct. 8 at the Rice Stadium, Winston said.

Any students interested in learning more about becoming an officer in the Marines can contact Winston by email at James.Winston2@marines.usmc.mil.

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