CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
EDITOR'S NOTE: This is one of eight women who will be featured in a series of articles during Women's History Month. Each of the outstanding women serving in the 2nd MLG is making a difference in both their units and out in their communities.
The antiquated thought that a woman's place is 'at home, in the kitchen' is not long gone, but steadily fading away. Women are more educated today, work in more demanding jobs than in years past and are more globally diverse than their foremothers.
As a result of the shift in women's roles in America, more opportunities have become available for young women like Lance Cpl. Jessica Hardyway to have successful careers while leaving a positive footprint in the world. Hardyway, a warehouse clerk with 2nd Dental Battalion, Combat Logistics Regiment 25, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, is taking her success as a Marine to new heights.
While she currently pursues an Associate's Degree in General Studies from the University of Phoenix, the 19-year old Marine also gives back to her community by volunteering with the North Carolina Adopt-A-Highway program, a state-ran initiative aimed at decreasing the amount of litter on the country's highways and roads. She also volunteers as a road guard for unit runs, helps wash vehicles for fundraising events, and helps other community organizations in Onslow County whenever volunteers are needed.
Volunteering, Hardyway says, has mutual benefits.
"Becoming involved in the community is very important because you have to get out there and show people that you don’t just go to work everyday, get off, and go home," she said. "I like to get out and meet people so helping out in the community is a good opportunity for me. You get to meet some crazy and fun people once you step out of your boundaries."
When she's not volunteering in the community or studying for a test, Hardyway is running up and down the basketball court as a member of the 2nd Dental Battalion Women's Intramural Basketball Team. Her never-ending quest for activities that mentally and physically challenge her is the same reason she joined the Marines in June 2008.
"I didn't want to take the same path that everyone else around me in high school was taking. I wanted a challenge, something that wasn't easy to do," she explained.
Her parents, James and Elizabeth Smith, realized their daughter would become a magnificent woman early on.
"She was so energetic and athletic in school, a quick learner and very dutiful at home," Mr. Smith said. "We wanted her to go to college, but when she told me she wanted to join the Marines instead, I told her to go for it!"
Smith said he knew his daughter would be successful in the Corps because she is tough and has a strong mind.
"I told her as long as she keeps the Lord first, she would be ok," he added.
Hardyway says that her mother is one of her biggest role models because she taught her the most important lesson in life - how to be a woman.
"My mother has inspired me throughout my life because she wants me to have the life she could not have. Looking back on the hard times I have dealt with in my youth life, my mother has always encouraged me to be strong, be independent, and be successful," Hardyway said.
As the young lance corporal continues her career in the Corps, the sky is the limit for what she can achieve. Her independence and mental strength to give more to others than what she takes on are only a few reasons why she is one of 2nd Dental Battalion's phenomenal women.