Marines seek diversity, share leadership skills at TMCF

Story by Lance Cpl. Naomi Marcom
Marine Corps Recruiting Command

WASHINGTON — U.S. Marines attended the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) 18th Annual Leadership Institute in the District of Columbia, October 26 – 29, 2018.

During the event, Marines connected with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) influencers and students through a series of classes, student interview panels, workshops and lectures.

The TMCF is the largest organization exclusively representing HBCUs, serving as a resource for nearly 300 thousand students. Over the past 31 years, the fund has awarded more than $300 million in assistance to its students and 47 member schools.

“The work of Thurgood Marshall College Fund and Leadership Institute is so important,” said Brigadier Gen. Lorna Mahlock, the Chief Information Officer of the Marine Corps. “It helps identify, build and connect talented individuals like [these HBCU students] to lead the corporations and businesses and places of government that will need talent in the future.”

Throughout the course of the conference, attendees had opportunities to learn about the Marine Corps during student interviews, participate in a problem-solving workshop, listen to Marine speakers, attend a gender-based discussion panel and network at a career fair.

“This is a leadership institute, and when we think of the Marine Corps, we think of leadership that has been honed for 242 years,” said Lt. Col. James Richardson Jr., the Community Relations Branch Head in the Communication Directorate office. “So by having Marines participating in this institute, we get to share Marine Corps leadership principles, leadership traits and leadership experiences with these students.”

The Marine Corps’ enduring relationships with and commitments to HBCUs and other associations committed to serving diverse communities allow the Marine Corps Recruiting Command to share its message of aspirational opportunity with leaders from the highest echelons of education.

“The importance of standing up for something that is impactful, that is more important than yourself, was taught during these sessions,” said Kennedy James, a student at Virginia State University in Petersburg, Virginia. “If you are a person who wants to serve in a place that is impactful, then you will choose the right place if you go to the Marines.”

Diversity plays an important part in structuring the Marine Corps. Last year, diversity officer accessions accounted for some 34% of officer accessions, representing a variety of backgrounds, cultures and skills. Diversity accession success is a result of the hard work of the recruiting force and benefits from robust community engagement activity, including events like the TMCF leadership institute engagement.

“To be involved with a leadership institute that is focused on bringing the best and the brightest students who have gone through a rigorous program and interview process to learn about leadership — I think it’s extremely important for us to be here,” Richardson said. “Diversity is extremely important in government and in the Marine Corps in order for us to be the best that we can be.”

The Marines’ fighting spirit is shared in a diversity of people across the globe and is only one aspect of winning battles. The Corps continues the battles won concept as it strives to fulfill its promises that Marines makes Marines, win the nation’s battles and returns quality citizens.

“Battles won is the work we do and must do everyday and every minute to stay true to the leadership traits and principles that we learned at Officer Candidates School and recruit training,” Mahlock expressed. “It’s the battles we win everyday in the office and the battlefield that make us lethal, and we’re looking for a few good men and women.”

For more information about how to become a Marine, call 1-800-MARINES or visit

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