Marines in school, daring to advance their careers

As the middle child of nine in her family, Staff Sgt. Luong Phan grew up under her parents’ appreciation for the freedoms the Vietnam-born family enjoys every day in their hometown of Sacramento, California.

Luong Phan

When asked why she enlisted in the military, she said humbly and directly, "I have always wanted to give back to this wonderful country, and I never saw my future without a military role." She enlisted right after high school and has not looked back.

She has been serving in the Marine Corps for nine and a half years, and is halfway through her schooling as a member of the MECEP (Marine Enlisted Commissioning Education Program). When she finishes in December 2013, she will have her BA in Biology, and her husband will have his bachelor’s degree in Sports Management.

She is married to Marine Staff Sgt. John Vroom, who has been active with the USMC for ten years. They met at Camp Pendleton, her first station of duty, before she was dispatched to the San Diego Depot. They have a daughter who goes to school in their neighborhood in West Ashley.

Luong Phan and her husband John Vroom at Boone Hall Plantation near Charleston, SC

"We came to The Citadel because of its fine reputation," said Phan. "One of my husband's mentors in the Corps said it would be the best learning environment for us." Most importantly, she said, "The Citadel faculty and staff really understand the challenges we face and we have great support from everyone on campus. Plus, learning among the cadets is a real mutual benefit."

Her perspective of the current debate of whether women should serve on the front lines of battle is simple: "If women are able to pass the requirements, then yes, they should have the same opportunity as men, regardless of levels of danger."

View of effective leadership: "Lead by example. Always show your troops that you’ve been in their shoes and will do everything to support their interests, which is a good way to live one"s life."

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