Hometown: Danvers, Mass.
Major: European Studies
Post Graduation: Marraffa will attend The Basic School, Quantico, Va., then serve as a Marine Corps officer
The object Robert Marraffa ’12 received on Sunday, May 13 – a diploma – was just as important as the object he gave that day – a small, silver dollar.
With precision, Marraffa handed the polished coin to Lance Corporal Kevin Keogh in a gesture that carried with it mutual respect and an acknowledgment of shared duty. The traditional Silver Dollar Salute marked Marraffa’s official commission as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps.
Following Commencement, Marraffa was commissioned in the Gilman Room, in a smaller, quiet ceremony that was the culmination of two summers spent in the Platoon Leaders Course (PLC) at the USMC base in Quantico, Va., learning to live by the motto Ductus Exemplo, “Leadership by Example.” This physically and emotionally taxing training program was also an important step in accomplishing everything Marraffa has wanted to do since high school.
“I chose to be commissioned on campus because a lot my friends here wanted to witness the ceremony and be a part of it,” explains Marraffa, who was allowed to choose where he wanted to receive his commission. He was also joined for the ceremony by his parents, two younger brothers and a friend who is a Marine.
“I have always wanted to go into the military,” he says. He chose the Marine Corps specifically “because they have a history of excellence. Their core values of honor, courage and commitment are three values that I believe I possess myself.” For the past two summers, Marraffa has gone from classes in history and literature at HWS to rigorous studies in leadership, military and Marine Corps history, and land navigation, among others, in the PLC. “It’s really good leadership training, with a lot of classes all day, every day,” he says. “It wasn’t just about physical training. It’s tough.”
In the fall, Marraffa will enroll at The Basic School in Quantico. There he will continue his education in Marine Corps strategy and tactics and he hopes to at some point be assigned a command in a tank battalion – a goal inspired by his high school history teacher and coach who was a Marine Corps Captain in Vietnam, in charge of tanks.
While he knew he would pursue a commission, Marraffa’s father urged him to get a college degree and pushed him to make the most of his college experience.
“My father advised me to go to college first, and I’m glad I did,” he says. “Attending HWS and meeting hundreds of people with different beliefs helped prepare me for my future in the Marines, where I must be ready for anything.”