HARLINGEN — Carlos De Leon is a success story at Marine Military Academy.
The 17-year-old Rancho Viejo native has come a long way since he joined the academy his sophomore year.
As battalion executive officer, or XO, Cadet Major De Leon is now the second-in-command of the battalion.
He’s also an Eagle Scout in MMA’s Boy Scout Troop 22 and a National Honor Society member.
It was his idea to attend MMA and he proposed it to his parents.
“And they gave me the go-ahead to go,” he said.
His first glimpse of the academy came during a Boy Scout event on campus.
“I really liked what I saw with the cadets and what they have. I was interested enough to do summer camp here. After that, that’s when I really said I wanted to come to this school,” he said.
He believed the academy could teach him how to overcome challenges in life.
“I thought the discipline and structure here would help me be more involved in what happens in school, in activities. And it did,” he said.
“The really good thing is, it was really easy to stay involved in clubs and activities. Even though they have a strict schedule, they always made time for you to go to those activities.”
He also found that a boarding school has other advantages.
“Learning to live with 50 other kids was a very big thing, as well. If you can live with someone else, then you become, I guess, more tolerant of other people,” De Leon said.
That’s a valuable trait for someone who aspires to working in diplomacy.
He says he became interested in the subject after meeting a friend of his parents who is a diplomat.
“It’s just very interesting to see how countries interact with each other. Being a part of that seems like something I would like,” he said.
“I’ve always liked history and, of course, history tends to repeat itself over and over. So, if you know what’s going on, why something is happening, then you can maybe stop it before it occurs.”
He also believes in Boy Scouts.
“The values of scouting will stick with me forever,” he said. “They are still some of the best guidelines I have lived by, and rarely have they let me down.”
Asked what advice he would give to students, he said:
“Start off strong. Freshman and sophomore years are some of the most important years because they determine your (grade point average). So if you push it those years, then you can focus your efforts on preparation and then have more time for other activities, which will also help you out a lot for college.”