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Petty Officer 2nd Class Jason F. Figgeroa (left), from Waipahu, Hawaii, a hospital corpsman, and Master Chief Petty Officer Florian C. Rio (right), from Norfolk, Va., the command master chief, both with Medical Battalion, Combat Logistics Regiment 25, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, pose for a picture aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., March 6, 2012. Figgeroa is currently preparing to accomplish his dream of attending Officer Candidate School April 15 and becoming a naval officer after completing his bachelor’s degree in political science in 2 ½ years.

Photo by Cpl. Bruno J. Bego

Petty officer reaches for stars

8 Mar 2012 | Cpl. Bruno J. Bego

Many people grow up with the dream of joining the military in order to improve themselves.

For Petty Officer 2nd Class Jason F. Figgeroa, a hospital corpsman with Medical Battalion, Combat Logistics Regiment 25, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, the military was his ticket to a better life.

 “I wanted to get out of Hawaii,” the Waipahu native said. “Times got rough, and I was going through some family issues, so it was time for me to go.”

When Figgeroa joined the Navy in 2007, his main focus was to take advantage of the tuition assistance program in order to get his bachelor’s degree in political science.

“My driving force was education,” he added. “I was focused on getting my bachelor’s degree in order to improve my lifestyle.”

Figgeroa expressed his desire of educating himself and his passion for serving his country increased rapidly over time.  His wish to make the military a life-long profession led him to the decision of becoming an officer in the Navy.

“Initially I didn’t join to become an officer,” he admitted. “After growing and maturing, I started to think becoming an officer is the best route for me.”

The Navy didn’t hand anything out, as Figgeroa explained. His   wish to expand his prospects and enrich his life required him to take from seven to eight classes per semester for a period of 2 ½ years.

“It was brutal,” he expressed. “I was definitely stressed out because besides the college classes, I still had to maintain my military commitments.”

Figgeroa’s stress didn’t only come from the amount of school work or duty assignments. He also had to financially compensate for whatever tuition assistance didn’t cover.

“I had to pay a lot for my classes,” he explained. “It was well worth it because I really want to become an officer.”

Although Figgeroa’s character and self-discipline helped him in completing his degree, he said he wasn’t alone in his struggles.  Master Chief Petty Officer Florian C. Rio, from Norfolk, Va., the Med. Bn. command master chief, shared his wisdom with Figgeroa from the beginning.

“I do not discriminate, I mentor everybody equally and provide them with the chances to improve themselves,” Rio explained. “Now if there is somebody who is really interested in becoming an officer, like Figgeroa, I talk to that person, and I explain the process.

“I show them which direction they need to go to accomplish their dream,” he said.

Rio also expressed how Figgeroa’s initiative and persistence impressed him from the beginning.

“That’s one of the things I saw about him.  He is a go-getter,” Rio added.  “He saw the opportunity there, and he went for it.  He achieved his goal of getting his bachelor’s degree.”

Figgeroa is currently preparing to attend Officer Candidate School April 15. Although he achieved his original goal of earning his bachelor’s degree and being selected to attend OCS, Figgeroa already has new goals in sight.

“I want a star.  I want to be an admiral one day,” Figgeroa expressed. “I also want to work at the Pentagon.

“I just want to have the privilege to step foot into the Pentagon as a staff member,” he said.

Figgeroa’s determination to succeed in life will help him along the way, but he said he doesn’t only do it for himself, he also does it to inspire his fellow sailors and Marines.

“I love the fact I can help and encourage other people to improve,” he concluded.  “I love the Navy.  I think joining the military is the best decision I’ve made, and I will continue to do my best to help others.”

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