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    Knowledge is Power

    Gunnery Sgt. Paul B. Alejo Jr. recognized at the Joint Collegiate Graduation and Recognition Ceremony

    Photo By Lance Cpl. Kevin Lopez Herrera | Mark Story, education services officer, Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island...... read more read more



    Story by Lance Cpl. Kevin Lopez Herrera 

    6th Marine Corps District

    PARRIS ISLAND, S.C.--Knowledge is power. The challenges of Marine Corps recruit training prepare Marines in different aspects of life and conditioning. Physical and leadership skills develop during this period, and one of the leadership principals for Marines is self-improvement. Marines are encouraged to seek higher education, during and after their service. And to help them succeed, Marines are offered financial aid in the form of the tuition assistance.

    Gunnery Sgt. Paul B. Alejo Jr. took the opportunities provided to him as an active duty Marine and invested time and effort into his higher education. Alejo, a native of Stockton, California, enlisted in 2007 from Recruiting Substation Stockton. After concluding his Marine Corps recruit training and the School of Infantry, Alejo began serving at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton as a supply business administrator.

    It wasn’t until he began his tour as a drill instructor at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, that Alejo began his studies. At the time, tuition assistance was available to Marines past their 24th month of service. Being a drill instructor is no easy task, not only do you have to manage your own time, but you need to lead a group of recruits and work gruesome hours. Alejo was determined to begin his education and took this task as a personal challenge.

    “Difficult? It can be. Different factors like your duty assignment, work, family, and trying to balance all of them out,” said Alejo. Being a father of five, alongside his tedious work hours as a drill instructor posed a challenge, but with support and perseverance, he pushed through. “I wanted to set an example, not only for myself, but for my kids. There’s not a lot of opportunities where I’m from, so I needed to make the best of it and it is definitely doable.”

    Alejo worked toward a bachelor’s degree in organizational leadership, aiming to become a better, more well-rounded leader. He continued his studies throughout his career and different duty stations; Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Officer Candidate School as a Sergeant Instructor, and at 6th Marine Corps District as the supply chief for Recruiting Station Baton Rouge. Because of his efforts, and the support of his children and his fiancé Amber Riley, Alejo graduated from Trident University International in April 2023.

    “Alejo is an amazing father and he goes above and beyond for his family, even after working so hard at work,” said Amber Riley. “I am very proud of him he did the unexpected and did it with honors--that’s the Alejo way. He is always looking to see how he can better himself and that’s what we love about him.”

    The Joint Collegiate Graduation and Recognition Ceremony allows service members, who had completed their higher education within the last year, to celebrate their accomplishments in full graduation regalia. Alejo walked across the stage with pride. He attended the ceremony as a reward to himself for his hard work and be part of a recognition organized by the individuals at MCRD Parris Island.

    “It made the victory much sweeter receiving the honor and being able to be the example for other Marines,” Alejo said. “I encourage every Marine to take advantage of tuition assistance and the opportunities provided by the military. Even if it’s one class every few months and you’re chipping away at it,” said Alejo. “If I could do it, anybody can.”

    If you seek a challenge, and be part of a legacy, talk to your local Marine Corps recruiter or visit For information about the Tuition Assistance Program visit



    Date Taken: 06.23.2023
    Date Posted: 07.25.2023 09:13
    Story ID: 449225
    Location: PARRIS ISLAND, SC, US
    Hometown: STOCKTON, CA, US

    Web Views: 21
    Downloads: 0