Confidence: Adrian Arranga

HARLINGEN — Adrian Arranaga has no doubt in his mind about his future.

Asked about his plans after graduation, the 18-year-old doesn’t hesitate for a second.

“After I do my four years at A&M, I’m going to join the Marine Corps, become an officer, do my time in service,” he said.

“And then once I get out of the Marine Corps, hopefully with all the things that the Marine Corps teaches me, join the FBI and become an agent.”

Adrian is a confident and focused young man who knows exactly what he wants to do.

The Marine Military Academy cadet captain and company commander is a Harlingen native — one of only four Valley residents at the academy, which has a corps of cadets from around the globe.

His father encouraged him to go to MMA. His father, also named Adrian, is a retired Marine Corps gunnery sergeant who is now a recruiter for MMA’s admissions office.

His father believed Adrian would be challenged more at the academy than at a public high school. And Adrian agreed.

“At a public high school, I wasn’t really getting the academic or physical challenges that I was wanting to get,” he said.

“I decided that MMA would be that challenge that I wanted to take up.”

So, after his freshman year at Cano Freshman Academy, Adrian attended MMA his next three years.

“In a public school, you’re going to have 30, maybe even 40, kids to one teacher,” he explained.

“You don’t get the attention that you get here. Here, you have 10 kids to one teacher. You can get more hands-on, more one-on-one time with your teacher. That really helps you understand the subject at hand.”

His expectations have become a reality. His GPA is up to 3.5 overall for his high school years, he’s a cadet captain and company commander and a member of the Rotary Interact Club for community service, the Key Club and Boy Scouts.

He plans to attend Texas A&M — Corpus Christi and major in criminal justice and minor in homeland security, before joining the Marine Corps.

He says being around other youths from around the world has numerous advantages. He’s learned cultures from China, Russia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Mexico, Canada, England and Africa.

“I think being open to these cultural differences helps you be better prepared for when you talk to somebody else you may not be familiar with, like a different race or different culture,” he said.

“Most people aren’t open to that cultural difference in their life. And that’s a very big help here because you’re prepared, you know something about their culture, you can start a conversation with them and right off the start, it helps you gain a better friendship and relationship with that person.”