Forging a new path

April 8, 2023

Jacqueline Shorter had planned on earning a scholarship and going to college after graduating from her high school. Then her house was destroyed in a fire, and she lost everything.

Shorter was forced to change her plans and find guidance in her path.  She found an opportunity to earn a living by joining the military.

headshot of Jacqueline Shorter
Shorter works during a 24-hour Squadron Duty Officer shift at Cherrypoint in 2014. (Photo courtesy of Jacqueline Shorter.)

“I felt like I wasn’t a strong person in my character,” Shorter said.  “And I looked at a commercial for the Marine Corps, and I was like … ‘You know, I’m going to do something to help me become a better person, a stronger person. To have agency over myself and my choices.’ And I went to the recruiter and said, ‘Sign me up.’”

Against her mother’s wishes, she enlisted and went to boot camp a week after graduation. But the physical demands were even more challenging than she expected.

“The (physical training) definitely showed me that I was not even a varsity softball player,” Shorter said.  “That level of fitness in high school was completely different than the Marine Corps level fitness, so I had a lot of catching up to do.”

Shorter not only made it through basic training but went on to serve as an unmanned aerial vehicle technician for more than eight years. Her job took her to locations like Okinawa, Japan, and Kaneohe, Hawaii, and even led to her meeting her husband. After winning several military medals and commendations, she has since earned her master’s degree in English literature and is a program lead for the Veteran and Military-Connected Services at Eastfield, where she helps ensure that others maximize their military benefits.

Like the other veterans in the panel, Shorter has now adjusted to civilian life and enjoys helping provide services to student veterans.

Her advice to female service members is to love yourself and know that your rank does not define you.

“Who you are when you lay your head down at night is what matters more than anything else,” she said. “And whether you’re civilian or military, that does not change.”

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