Senior’s postsecondary plans take flight … literally

Mariah Jackson had other options, but she opted to join the few, the proud ...

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Senior’s postsecondary plans take flight … literally

Maddie Doran, assistant editor

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Varsity softball coach Rachael Matz described senior Mariah Jackson in a single word: indispensable.

“I had been really pushing her to do some club softball to walk on to a team somewhere because I knew how fast she was,” Matz said. “Then she told me she was accepted to Arizona State, and I asked if she had thought about it, and she said, ‘Well actually coach … I joined the Marines!’”

Jackson felt joining the Marines would give her valuable life experiences and more college options.

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Basically, I’m ensuring that nobody is going to die.”

— Graduate Mariah Jackson

“Reactions from my friends are always positive,” Jackson said. “It’s like, ‘Oh my God, that’s great!’ Obviously they’re a little worried, but it’s mostly positive. My family was like, ‘Just don’t get shot,’ but [when they] came around to it, they were like, ‘You know what, just live your life, do you. Do something exciting.’”

Jackson followed that advice and then some.

“I’m going to be a parachute rigger, which means I’m going to be fixing parachutes and packing them up,” Jackson said. “Basically, I’m ensuring that nobody is going to die.”

The closest Jackson has ever been to skydiving is iFly, but she will earn her skydiving certificate and license at training camp. As a parachute rigger, she will never have to enter a combat zone, which helped her family to feel more comfortable about her joining the military.

“[Choosing this job was] for my family because they didn’t want [me] in combat,’” Jackson said. “I’m going to respect [their] wishes, but I’m going to do something exciting.”

Jackson will attend training camp in Paris Island, N.C., where all female Marines train. After that, she will be deployed to another location for assignment.

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Mariah is not someone who needs to be coddled. She doesn’t need to be picked back up.”

— Softball coach Rachael Matz

Matz believes that Jackson has many traits that will help her succeed in the Marines.

“You have to know there won’t always be someone there for you to lean on; a lot of it has to be you, a lot of self-reliance,” Matz said. “Mariah is not someone who needs to be coddled. She doesn’t need to be picked back up; she’s not the personality that needs tons of help. When there’s something tough she withdraws into herself, so she will be really prepared in that sense.”

As far as postmilitary plans go, Jackson plans to attend a university where she won’t have to pay tuition because of her military service and major in landscape architecture.

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