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'Reporting for Duty'

DATE: Monday, October 21, 2019

"Quitting is not an option." – Elizabeth Busker, Marine Corps veteran, single mom, psychology major, Student Senate president

Elizabeth Busker

Editor's Note: The speech below was delivered by HCC student Elizabeth Busker at the annual President's Reception, hosted by President Christina Royal Oct. 15 at the HCC MGM Culinary Arts Institute.   

Hello, my name is Elizabeth Busker, and it is a great honor to be here tonight. As you can see, I am a single parent to this beautiful five-year-old girl.

What you may not know about me is that I am a Marine Corps veteran. Yes, you heard right: I am a badass.

To quickly summarize my 13 years of experience in the Marine Corps:

I successfully completed four tours in combat: three tours in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom and one tour in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom

I also excelled at my job, leading me to be named one of the top-performing Marines.

I became a voice for my fellow sister Marines (who now make up 8 percent of the Marine Corps population), an advocate for sexual assault victims (both women and men), and an officer in charge of the safety and morale of Marines, regardless of rank.

I transitioned out of the Marine Corps in October 2017 and started my first semester at HCC in January 2018. I describe this experience using the military's term, "fog of war."

According to the "Marine Corps Doctrinal Publication 1, Warfighting," the "fog of war" takes place in an atmosphere of uncertainty:

"Uncertainty pervades battle in the form of unknowns about the enemy, about the environment, and even about the friendly situation."

I felt like I was in this exact situation during my transition to HCC: I felt confused. I thought I had enemies (triggers of PTSD?). I was in a new unknown environment. Do I trust these friendly situations?

And then I remember trying so hard to put trust into people I knew very little about. Importantly, I remember my goals, especially to graduate college.

Receiving the SSG Clint J. Storey "Pay a Good Deed Forward" Scholarship gave me a new light. Staff Sergeant Storey – still with us through his generous legacy – is holding me accountable. Quitting is not an option.

Today, I am president of Student Senate, and I am succeeding in college as a psychology major, focusing on holistic healing and practices, knowing that my decisions will impact both my future and my daughter's.  

My story and my being here today have a lot to do with donors like you. Thank you for giving me hope. Thank you for providing me a new purpose.

I, Elizabeth Busker, am respectfully reporting for duty as a college student here at Holyoke Community College.

PHOTO by MICHAEL GORDON: Elizabeth Busker



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