University of South Florida St. Petersburg Campus



USF group at Marine Corps Workshop

USF contingent experiences the Marines Corps firsthand

By Matthew Cimitile, University Communications and Marketing

From navigating obstacle courses to hearing from men and women commissioned as officers, a delegation from the University of South Florida took part in an inspiring and informative week at the U.S. Marine Corps Educators Workshop

The workshop, which took place in late June at the Marine Corps Base in Quantico, Va., provided educators with the opportunity to observe training practices and service opportunities in action, while forging relationships between education institutions and the military. The team came away with a better understanding of officer candidate training, military job skills, educational benefits and how the Marine Corps operates overall. 

“It was a terrific experience that really got me thinking about different ways we can help students who are interested in joining the military after college as well as those who have already served and are looking to transition into their next phase of life,” said USF St. Petersburg Regional Chancellor Christian Hardigree.

USF had the largest contingent of any university at the workshop. Joining Hardigree was:

  • Renee Amboy, associate director of the Office of Veterans Success on the Tampa campus 
  • Darren Gambrell, associate director of the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion on the Sarasota-Manatee campus
  • Carlos Moreira, director of campus engagement for Veterans' Success and Alumni Affairs on the Sarasota-Manatee campus
  •  Jay W. Riley, senior director, Corporate Training and Professional Education on the Tampa campus, and
  • Jennifer VanDeWoestyne, assistant director of Academic Advising on the Sarasota-Manatee campus.

“This was a phenomenal time, especially having representation from each of our USF campuses,” said Moreira, a 15-year Marine Corps veteran and current Marine Reserve who organized USF’s involvement in the workshop. “It was a perfect way of showcasing that we just don’t talk about military and veteran student success, this was an example of us embracing it.”

“It gave us the opportunity to create a greater synergy and unity between the three campuses, and I believe that will help us to better raise awareness across the university around the issues that impact our student veterans and military connected population,” Amboy added.

In addition to navigating the base’s obstacle course, the team visited the Officer Candidates School and the Basic School, where newly commissioned and appointed officers are taught the basics of becoming an “Officer of Marines.” To be commissioned as an officer in the Marine Corps, young adults must have a bachelor’s degree.

“It was incredibly inspiring to hear from the men and women who chose the Marine Corps as part of their journey,” Hardigree said.

They toured and received briefings from Marine Corps University, Command and Staff College and Marine Corps Embassy Security Group. The group also got the opportunity to ride in Ospreys, which are tiltrotor military aircraft that are capable of both vertical takeoff and landing, and visited the National Museum of the Marine Corps, where they were offered a preview of a new exhibition that will open in November of 2025 on the 250th anniversary of the Marine Corps.

Amboy expressed a recognition of the vast array of skills and knowledge that Marines acquire, equipping them for both military service and future endeavors. "I now possess a much deeper comprehension of the invaluable skillsets possessed by Marines, which will greatly assist me in effectively supporting student veterans as they transition into academic and civilian life."

USF has consistently ranked as one of the best universities in the nation for student veterans. It is also one of only 50 campuses in the nation that hosts ROTC programs from all of the nation's Armed Services (Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force). 

If interested in learning more about the U.S. Marine Corps Educators Workshop or how to participate in the future, contact Carlos Moreira.

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