Joining the United States Marine Corps at 18 years old was one of the best decisions Tara Dickerson says she ever made. As a third generation Marine and the second woman in her family to hold the honor, she served with an additional sense of pride continuing her family’s legacy.
After Dickerson completed her service in 2016 as an aviation ordnanceman, she knew she wanted to begin pursuing her degree as soon as possible. However, she still wanted to ease into a college setting and felt that a community college could meet those needs. Once she knew that she and her husband would be moving to Houston, she began researching community colleges close to their area.
“I wanted to attend a community college because I’m still in that transition period coming from the military,” said Dickerson. “I saw that San Jacinto College is a Military Friendly School and read a lot of great things other veterans had to say about the campus veteran centers. When I came to the South Campus and met with their veteran center coordinator, Ms. Uquay Baker, who is also a Marine, I knew this was the best choice for me. It’s one thing to read about it, but to experience first-hand how welcoming and helpful the veteran center staff are speaks volumes, especially for veterans coming to the campus for the first time. I enjoy spending most of my time in between classes studying or taking a break in the veteran center.”
Dickerson is pursuing her degree in accounting, a career interest she says that came from helping others in one of the most stressful times each year – tax season. Having volunteered on base during tax season with the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, Dickerson helped approximately 2,000 other military members complete and submit their tax returns. “After volunteering with VITA, I realized how useful an accounting degree would be. I plan to continue to volunteer with VITA because I really enjoy being able to help people with their taxes. I’m also looking into possibly working for the IRS one day.”
She encourages other veterans to start on their educational pathways as soon as they can and to apply their military experience to completing their education and any career they are interested in. “Just get it done. The longer you put school off, the harder it will be to start. The military gave you a lot of tools and opportunities that you can apply toward anything. It’s also good to keep in touch with your war buddies, rack mates, etc., especially when you’re going through midterms and finals. It never hurts to have them in your corner giving you that extra motivation to do your best.” Integrity Finding Purpose 11 Tara Dickerson