By Jorge Cervantes, Castlemont High School student

Since I was 12 years old, I’ve wanted to join the military.

Instead of living in fear, I’ve grown to admire the military (and the U.S. Marines in particular) for the professed ideals of challenge, courage and commitment.

Before attending Castlemont High School, I heard resistance from my teachers whenever I shared that I want to join the military.

At Castlemont, most teachers I’ve spoken with about the military have had mixed feelings about students joining the military.

All but one supported the military in some way. By talking with them openly instead of facing a wall of no, I’ve learned more about what I want to do with my future. I still want to join the military, but now, I’m beginning to think about what I want to do after the military.

As a young man growing up in Oakland, I have witnessed gun violence, homelessness, robberies, and people living in poverty.

According to Mr. Berry, a Math teacher at Castlemont High School, violence in Oakland limits youth. Because violence poses an everyday challenge that limits options for youth after high school, for some, the military is a good fit.

“In this community, there are more people pushed into the military because they’re not given as many options,” he said.

According to, 30.3 percent of residents in my neighborhood have an income below the poverty level.

Find links HERE to complete “Education Voices: Youth seek Identity” series.

(Mr. Cervantes reported and wrote this story while participating in the Oakland Local Education Voices program in collaboration with Youth Uprising and Castlemont High School. The program was funded by The California Endowment. Find links to the complete series HERE and on the CastleCrier. Instructors Shaka Redmond of Youth Uprising and Irene Florez, Barbara Grady and Jon Leckie of Oakland Local congratulate Jorge for his work.

3 Responses

  1. Alex

    Good for you, my husband is a usmc recruiter in sf, we both grew up on the peninsula and joining the military helped him become more aware of what he wants in life, you become anything you want to after the military you will learn the importantace of team work and hard work. Hopefully you can use those skills and bring them back to your community and help teach people if we are selfless not selfish we can make the world a much safer and happier place
    Semper Fi

  2. D.E.

    Former Army Air Traffic Controller here. Finding a very good job/career post military wasn’t difficult.

  3. D.E.

    One other thing….if your teachers knew just how good the current GI Bill was they would have a different opinion. Good Luck!


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