The Carrillo family’s history with the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society spans major family milestones. From preparing for baby to graduating from college, the Society has been there for the Carrillos.

After Richard Carrillo joined the Marine Corps in 1996, he and Maria married in 1999 and attended the Budget for Baby® class to prepare for a growing family. “As young parents we learned a lot from the class,” Maria recalled. “We still have the blanket we received!”

Years later, in 2016, Maria and her daughter Cassie volunteered for the Society at NMCRS Camp Lejeune. “I loved volunteering,” recalled Cassie. “It was a really good learning experience. I liked meeting with the Sailors and Marines, getting to know them, and gaining experience speaking with different people. I started off working at the front desk, then I trained to do Quick Assist Loans.” Toward the end of the year she volunteered there, Cassie also helped Maria in her work organizing the Budget for Baby® classes she had once taken when she was pregnant.

“Now I have a job in an office setting, and my experience as a volunteer for the Society helped prepare me for that,” Cassie explained.

At the time Cassie was applying to colleges, her sister Miranda and their father were also in college. “It was so hard for my family with three of us going to college, so I applied for a lot of scholarships,” she said. Maria learned about the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society scholarship for service members and their family members at the Education Center on base at Camp Lejeune.

When Richard retired from the Marine Corps after a 22-year career, he and Maria decided to settle in San Antonio, Texas. Richard worked as a motor transport maintenance chief for most of his career, as well as a recruiter and an operations chief. He deployed three times to Iraq and moved his family from Camp Pendleton in San Diego, California to Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, North Carolina, with stops in Des Moines, Iowa; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Twentynine Palms, California. During his years of active duty, Richard never had time to earn his bachelor’s degree. “I took my first college course in 2012 and chipped away at it little by little,” he explained. “Other than going to Professional Military Education for the Marine Corps I had not taken any type of course work since high school. It was an eye-opening experience that got me ready for life after retirement.Richard graduated American Military University with a degree in logistics management in February 2018, then retired from the Marine Corps in April of that year.

“The scholarships awarded to my family have helped alleviate some of the worry of paying for college, especially because we currently have three family members attending college at the same time,” Maria said. “At one point we had all four of our family members attending college!” Maria is attending the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio and will be graduating with a bachelor’s in nursing next summer. “We are truly thankful to have received these scholarships while we pursue our education.”

Cassie recently finished her third year at the University of Texas at San Antonio, where she is a biology major. After graduation, she plans to earn her master’s degree and work in forensic science. Outside of class, Cassie volunteers helping new students make the transition to college life, and writes for Her Campus, an online media site for college women.

Miranda is on track to graduate this summer from Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas with a bachelor’s degree in computer science with a minor in mathematics. “My scholarship from the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society helped me afford college and pursue different opportunities,” Miranda explained. “For example, the scholarship gave me some wiggle room in my finances so I could do a two-month software development internship in Brazil. I learned and experienced so much on that trip, and I am so grateful I was able to participate. Without the help of the NMCRS scholarship, the internship abroad would have never happened and I would have missed out on an amazing opportunity.”

Even before graduation, Miranda lined up a job as a software engineer at L3 Harris Technologies. She will be working there this fall while pursuing her master’s degree in software engineering at Texas Tech.

“As I am coming close to graduating, I realize how much I really appreciate the fact that I do not have a $30,000 student loan waiting for me to pay off,” Miranda said. “As I enter the workforce, I plan to give back to all those who invested in me so that they can help other students to achieve.”

Learn more about the Society’s Education Assistance Program on our site: https://www.nmcrs.org/pages/education-loans-and-scholarships. All awards are based on financial need.

By Betsy Rosenblatt Rosso

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