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    Shared heritage: U.S. Marine leader with Haitian upbringing finds purpose leading Marines

    Shared heritage: U.S. Marine leader with Haitian upbringing finds purpose leading Marines

    Photo By Sgt. Emily Kirk | U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Villiana Jeanfrancois, fiscal planner with 4th Marine Logistics...... read more read more



    Story by Sgt. Emily Kirk 

    U.S. Marine Corps Forces, South

    At 5 years old, U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Villiana Jeanfrancois left her family in Haiti to begin her immigration to the United States. After enduring hardships as a child, Jeanfrancois turned that hardship into honor and a life of service to her new country, where she has risen through the enlisted and officer ranks successfully.

    She was fortunate to have an adoptive family who cared for her until her immediate family, whom she left back in Haiti, could begin the immigration process themselves. While most of her chosen and biological family are spread out around the state of Florida, where she now calls home, she still has strong cultural ties and family in Haiti.

    Jeanfrancois’ deep passion for education started from an early age. She worked hard through grade school and throughout her undergrad in college, focusing on her studies and being involved in school organizations and volunteer opportunities.

    “My mother wasn’t allowed to go to school, her dad said a woman belonged at home to cook, clean and take care of the mother wasn’t even able to write her own name because she didn’t get afforded that opportunity,” said Jeanfrancois. “I had that opportunity, and I knew nothing stood between me and going to school, except for me, and I did it.”

    Education has been a driving factor in her life, starting as early as grade school during her time in Florida. Jeanfrancois applied for many scholarships and grants to make her dream come true. She was afforded the opportunity to become a naturalized citizen while attending college and had wanted to study abroad for a semester.

    “While I was submitting my documents for my study abroad, I also petitioned to become a United States citizen. I worked with my congressional representative to write letters for me as I was in community services and wanted to become a U.S. citizen to be able to participate in the voting process,” said Jeanfrancois. She was approved for a study abroad opportunity and completed that course of study. She became a naturalized citizen in the same year that she applied for citizenship.

    Celebrating their accomplishments of graduation, Jeanfrancois set out on a vacation with her close friend to Hawaii. “Where do we go? Pearl Harbor. I just had an epiphany,” said Jeanfrancois. “Going through all the memorials, sights, seeing the service members, just did something to me...and ironically my church was having a career day when I returned.”

    Although Jeanfrancois recently received her college degree, she went to speak with an enlisted recruiter. She wanted to see about serving her time as enlisted and then how to transition to receive an officer’s commission. “I felt my calling was first serve as enlisted because I didn’t want to take on that role without being willing and able to do any and everything that I would be asking my Marines to do,” said Jeanfrancois.

    She believes a team is made up of individuals. If one team member is down, the whole team suffers. That is why Jeanfrancois genuinely cares for each individual Marine’s success. That is also why she strives to emulate the Marine Corps principle of “one team, one fight.”

    “Serving just only felt natural to me. If I wake up and I’m taking care of someone or I’m helping someone have a better day or if I’m helping make a difference in someone's life by simply being there and being me, I’ve won. I felt like the Marine Corps offered that,” said Jeanfrancois.

    With that same sense of service Jeanfrancois works with her Marines from the bottom up, making sure Marines from every rank understand the intricacies of how to form a team and achieve mission accomplishment. “That’s what we’ve done in our section. For me, I feel like I'm here for them, that’s why I exist,” said Jeanfrancois.

    Even though she knew it was risky, she was able to meet her biological brother on a visit to Haiti. While there, she saw the devastation firsthand; the people have and are still impacted by natural disasters and civil unrest in the country. “I just hope that we as a country can unite ourselves as the Haitian people in order to walk away from this, saving the rich traditions and heritage that we have, and the strength we have as far as being the first republic to show the world that slavery is not necessary and that people can be free... and transition from all this civil disturbance and lawlessness that have laid siege and unite like they did back in 1804,” said Jeanfrancois.

    Despite the devastation she witnessed, Jeanfrancois has been able to take all the injustice she has endured and turn it into strength and compassion, and turn it around to create a strong impact on the Marines she leads. “It has helped me be relatable and identify Marines who are possibly struggling…and at the end of the day every situation is different, but I’m able to offer me, and whatever decision they make I’m right there, shoulder-to-shoulder with them,” said Jeanfrancois.

    Major Jeanfrancois currently serves as a fiscal planner with 4th Marine Logistics Group, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Reserve, in New Orleans, LA.

    (Story by U.S. Marine Sgt. Emily Kirk)



    Date Taken: 05.23.2024
    Date Posted: 05.23.2024 10:50
    Story ID: 472110
    Hometown: MIAMI, FLORIDA, US

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