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JCCC Stories

Marine, mover and motivated

April 29, 2016

Marlon Moore conquered his trepidation over coming back to school so he could begin a career to help others

Marlon Moore is going to be a fire fighter. He’ll need courage to run into burning buildings, but he’s already proved he’s courageous enough to start over.

“It’s kind of intimidating, thinking about actually coming back to school,” he said. “I took a placement test, and I said to the lady there, ‘I haven’t even seen a math book in 20 years.’ And one of the kids nearby said, ‘Twenty years? I wasn’t even born yet.’”

His decision to attend Johnson County Community College came after a tour of duty in the Marines and two years as a furniture mover after he returned to his hometown of Olathe.

Weighing his options

In the Marines, he retired at age 34, serving as a recruiter and an infantryman. For a while, moving furniture was fine, but his veteran’s benefits (allowing him to receive help with tuition and fees) would soon expire, and he knew he wanted something more than the life he had.

He wanted to help people, he said.

“I thought I wanted to be a lawyer when I was younger, but apparently I didn’t do that hot in school. Also, I’m not a firm believer in arguing,” Moore said. 

He considered being a police officer, too, before he discovered his tattoos – emblems of honor from his Marine days – would keep him from being considered by some police departments.

Listening to the experiences of his fire-fighting friends helped him commit to fire science after he receives his associate’s degree.

Giving back

Already he volunteers at his church, tacking “honey-do” projects for the elderly and underserved. Under the name of the Right-Hand Ministries, he’s completed home-repair projects, mowed lawns and did whatever needed doing. He also helps run a youth basketball league.

Moore said he considered going back to his high school – Olathe North – to set up a scholarship for students who want to go to college. “Kids get to college and don’t realize it costs money,” he said.

Moore could depend on his veteran’s benefits to pay for the majority of college expenses, but for help with books, he received the Spencer Duncan Make It Count with Books scholarship. The money is in honor of an Army Reservist who was killed in action in 2011. A large 5K race in Olathe helps fund the scholarship for student veterans.

Motivated to succeed

As a first-generation college student, Moore appreciated the help. His own mother dropped out of school when he was born; his brother was only 10 months old when Marlon was born, and raising two boys in diapers meant delaying school.

“She did eventually get her GED, though,” Moore said. “But she worked hard.”

Moore has taken that same work ethic with him to JCCC. “I don’t like to fail,” he explained.  “I tell people all the time, ‘I would love to coach, but I don’t like to lose.’”

For more information on scholarships available at JCCC, contact the financial aid office, apply online or call 913-469-3840.