Q&A : Oluwaseun Emmanuel Ojelade recounts his experience in the Marine Corps

Fiona Fox, Staff Writer

The United States celebrates Veterans Day on November 11, one day after The Marine Corps’ birthday. This year the Marine Corps turns 247 years old and in its lengthy history has multiple dedicated soldiers turned veterans—including Oluwaseun Emmanuel Ojelade. 

 Veterans Day is about honoring those who serve and fought in the military for our country: the few who are moved around the world to protect the lives of our country and our allies, the heart of the warrior spirit of our nation and Ojelade wears that honor proudly. Let’s dive right into it.   

Happy Veterans Day, thank you for your service- At what age did you join?  

OEO: “I joined the Marine Corps at 24, so I actually joined a bit later than most people. I had already graduated high school, had gone to college the first time, and dropped out. I was supporting myself but the job I was in wasn’t really going anywhere so I wanted to try something different, go start a different direction and the marine corps seemed like a good choice. I figured I was still young enough and healthy enough to try I went ahead and tried, I enlisted, and the rest is history.”  

What led you to choose the Marine Corps Branch? 

OEO: “I chose the Marine Corps, probably because of the reputation, probably because my little sister joined the military before I did and she joined the air force, which was actually my first choice and I wasn’t going to go into a branch where my little sister outranked me, I went ahead and chose a different branch entirely. The Marine Corps was my second choice- I liked what the Marine Corps told me they had to offer, and I figured if I was going to join a branch, I would choose one that would challenge me, that could push me, and that had the reputation that the Marine Corps had.”  

How long did you serve? 

OEO: “I was in for 5 years- I had little bit of a longer a contract than most people, because I ended up working as an avionics technician and because the schooling is a bit longer, they adjust for the schooling you have to take and then you spend the rest of your time pretty much doing the normal 4-year contract.”  

Can you tell give us a little detail about what you did as an avionics technician? 

OEO: “Essentially, I worked on some of the electronic subcomponents of the F/A-18, like if you’ve ever been around Miramar and you’ve been to the air shows, you’ve heard those F/A-18 flying around, there’s a good chance I worked on some piece of equipment on one of those airplanes. So that was basically my main job. I also worked a little bit in logistics as far as facilitating the delivery of supplies needed to get the job done like parts and so on so, it was very much more of a support role, but it was an essential role and I enjoyed it.”   

Where are you from originally? 

 OEO: “I joined the Marine Corps from Oklahoma, the midsouth. I was actually born overseas, I’m actually Nigerian by birth, I moved to the United States when I was 5 years old.”  

Did the Marines move you somewhere you fell in love with? What was it about this city that made it special for you?  

OEO: “San Diego, honestly…I got stationed to San Diego after I finished my A school in Pensacola, and I’ve been here ever since. It’s been almost 9 years now. San Diego is definitely more my speed. I felt like it was a place that spoke to me, it’s really hard to put into words but I’ve lived in 5 states now and San Diego is probably the place I felt where I have felt the most at home.”   

What was your favorite part about being a Marine? 

OEO: “The Experiences: I never really got to shoot before I joined the Marine Corps, I haven’t since, but the thing I enjoyed most was being able to learn how to shoot a rifle. It’s a really Zen, mind clearing thing which I appreciate; it takes a lot of focus, it takes a lot of concentration but in the course of it you completely clear your mind and focus on one thing which I really value- I’m kind of an overthinker so being able to shut my mind off like that for a bit is really relaxing.  

I also enjoyed some of the people I met, people from all over join the Marine Corps. You meet some really interesting people, you hear some really interesting stories, and you get exposed to a much more diverse group of people that even if you stay in your home town or even live in the city sometimes because even cities tend to draw a certain type of person, but in the Marine Corps, everyone had different reasons for joining, everyone had different life stories and it was a very, organic way to get introduced to people you probably would never meet in other circumstances.” 

Have you decided on a major?   

OEO: “Yes, I’m a business administration student, I’m actually studying marketing. This is my last semester so I’m going to be graduating this December.”   

How do you feel you bring your military experience to impact our campus or classmates?    

OEO: “I feel like it gives me a different perspective; my time in the military has given me a perspective of being able to look at things from a bigger picture because a lot of the military is being able to focus on an overall mission, an overall objective, and fulfilling that objective. So, it’s allowed me to take more of a step back and see the bigger picture in a lot of ways. So, some decisions that are made that students might not understand in the very beginning I’m sometimes able to take a step back and be like okay, this is probably why the school is doing it, this is probably why it’s being instituted and so on.  

The marine corps also taught me some leadership skills which I definitely value… There have been times where I have had to step up and be a leader, and I found that those skills benefit me and my team really well.”  

What’s your favorite thing about campus life and how do you think being a Veteran has influenced your experience? 

OEO: “Honestly, the people I work with. I work in the Veterans Center and it’s not the fact that they’re veterans; some parts of it are the fact that a lot of us have similar life experiences being Veterans, but also, I work with a really good group of people and my time here has been really enjoyable.”   

Do you have any fun traditions you participate in on Veterans Day? 

 OEO: “Well, of course taking a moment to reflect, being thankful for the reason Veterans Day exists- that’s always essential, that’s the heart of the reason why Veterans Day exists but other than that, free food (chuckles). I keep it low key, I try to find a restaurant or two that has a menu I think I’d like, and I go ahead and just show them my i.d. like hey, free food. The only time I ever use my military discount is on Veterans Day or if I’m staying at a hotel that’s pricey (chuckles as he explains)- so-since I rarely use it, I figure the time I use it, I might as well make the best of it.”   

Before we go… 

OEO: “The Veterans Center is open to anyone so anyone can feel free to swing by; we’re pretty approachable we’re pretty friendly, we’re pretty accommodating so if you have any questions or your just curious and want to see what’s there or want to use the facilities for what we offer, then by all means feel free. Also, for our student organization, it’s a veteran affiliated student organization or VASO, it’s pretty much the organization of Veterans or military connected people that kind of all come together on campus and have events to fundraise but also recognize each other from that community, so that’s open to anyone as well whether they’re a veteran, they’re dependent, they’re part of the family of a military member: it’s open and I encourage people to join if they can.”  

And that’s a wrap Cougars! Make sure to stop by the Veterans Center and say hi to our fellow Veteran students, thank them for their service, and join in on the fun activities they offer especially with the sweet deck filled with games like corn hole! Make sure to have your student I.D.