Tyler Wilson, a 2011 University of the Ozarks' graduate, was recently selected into the prestigious U.S. Marine Corps' judge advocate general (JAG) program. Wilson was one of only 10 candidates chosen for the honor out of a pool of about 200 applicants. In June, Wilson will leave for a demanding 10 weeks at Officer Candidate School in Quantico, Va.
The JAG program is the Marine Corps’ judicial arm and is composed of military attorneys called judge advocates, who provide legal services to headquarters staff, Marines, sailors, military retirees and service members’ families.
Wilson, originally from Claremore, Okla., didn’t always plan to become a Marine Corps’ judge advocate, but in his second year of law school he was searching for a way to make a difference in the world. He found his answer in a quote from former President Ronald Reagan.
Tyler Wilson, shown with U of O president Rick Niece and First Lady Sherée while he was a student at Ozarks, was recently accepted in the U.S. Marine Corps’ judge advocate general (JAG) program. He will attend Officer Candidate School in Virginia this summer.
"This past summer, while working at a law firm in Tulsa, I thought to myself, ‘What am I doing here?’ I always knew I wanted to leave a legacy that my family and Ozarks could be proud of, but I didn’t feel like I was on that path yet," Wilson said. "So, I thought about that quote from President Ronald Reagan: ‘Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference in the world, but the Marines don’t have that problem.’ I decided then to try for Marine Corp JAG."
While at Ozarks, Wilson was actually a biology major with minors in chemistry and philosophy. After graduation, he attended law school at University of Oklahoma College of Law while also attending the University of Oklahoma School of Public Health.
"My degree plan is a little complicated, but basically I’m earning a dual degree in law and public health," Wilson explained.
Wilson fully admits that taking such a demanding variety of courses at Ozarks helped prepare him for success in law school.
"All of my Ozarks professors pushed me to be the best student I could be, both inside and outside the classroom," Wilson said. "In law school, professors don’t have any problem calling you out in the middle of class to answer questions. Being in small, upper-level courses at Ozarks and learning how to prepare for those discussion-heavy classes has helped greatly."
The role of Wilson’s Ozarks professors didn’t stop at preparing him for law school either. They also played a pivotal role in his selection into the JAG program.
"The selection process for Marine Corps JAG is extremely long, but one of the sections involves gathering several letters of recommendation. I was able to get a lot of those from my Ozarks professors," he said.
Wilson was also required to pass a rigorous fitness test and write a personal statement explaining his desire to be in the JAG program.
"The last part of the selection process is actually being selected for Officer Candidate School (OCS)," he said. "During this time, several high-ranking officers decide which candidates they want to send to OCS. It is a very selective program. Only about 10 JAG candidates were chosen from pool of over 200 candidates."
In June of 2013, Wilson will leave for 10 weeks at Officer Candidate School in Virginia. He is enthusiastic about his prospects at OCS, but admittedly a little apprehensive.
"I’m both excited and nervous. From what I hear, OCS is 10 weeks of torture. A lot of people drop out before it’s over, but I’m prepared to stick it out," Wilson said. "My goal is to continue moving up in the Marine Corp, and eventually be stationed at Quantico or the Pentagon dealing with issues of international law."
Wilson’s advice for undergraduate students is simple.
"If you want it, go for it. Don’t be afraid to take chances. Also, don’t skip out on the hard classes. Those are the ones that prepare you the best," Wilson said.
Topics: Political Science