Photo Information

Major David Arellano, a Marine Corps Recruiting Command recruiting support officer, explains a scenario to Meydi Mejia, who is a junior from Grace King High School, during the Latinos on the Fast Track Program’s Body, Mind and Spirit Seminar held at Tulane University in New Orleans on April 24, 2017. As part of the seminar, students filled leadership roles as they were tasked with guiding their teams through various scenarios. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Rubin J. Tan/Released)

Photo by Staff Sgt. Rubin Tan

Marines Connect with Local Youth through Hispanic Heritage Foundation

1 Jun 2017 | Staff Sgt. Rubin Tan 6th Marine Corps District

The Marine Corps partnered with the Hispanic Heritage Foundation who hosted their Latinos on the Fast Track’s Body, Mind and Spirit Seminar at Tulane University in New Orleans on April 24, 2017. 

The seminar comprised of more than 160 high school juniors and seniors from the New Orleans area who filled the campus lecture hall.

Enthusiastic and greatly animated students filled the hall as eager participants worked together to complete team building exercises requiring critical thought.

“Similar to our Leadership Reaction Course, we are putting groups together with a designated leader and are looking for key things such as the leader’s communication skills, leadership skills and making sure they can complete the mission,” explained Master Sgt. Abiud Montes, Marine Corps Recruiting Command recruiting support officer. “Throughout the scenarios we create stress and chaos by putting a time limit with the ultimate goal to see if they can get the job done.” 

Meydi Mejia was one of the leaders who is a junior from Grace King High School. Her goal was to get a team of six members across a hypothetical river where three members were considered cannibals and were not allowed to outnumber non-cannibals on either side of the river. 

The look of frustrated teens could be found all across the room as teams failed, regrouped and tested new plans to accomplish their assigned missions. 

“Today I learned in being a leader you have to learn how to talk to your team and take opinions from everybody because they might know something you don’t,” said Mejia who is originally from Honduras and aspires to one day become a dental hygienist. 

The LOFT program is a leadership and workforce development program that identifies, prepares and connects youth in high school through college to prepare them from careers based on ten career tracks. These “tracks” or industries include innovation and technology, science and healthcare, engineering, finance, entrepreneurship, education, public service, law, media and entertainment, and Latinas. 

Through the foundation, hundreds of minorities have the opportunity to participate in internships, mentorships, fellowships and full-time positions with Fortune 500 companies and government agencies. 

“Our main goal is to reach out to different diversity groups because a lot of communities don’t get that information where other groups may receive it,” said Montes. “Programs like these create a more diverse opportunity for an individual who may have never heard of the Marine Corps.”

Programs that Marine Corps representatives spoke about to participants include the Marine Corps Summer Leadership and Character Development Academy and the Pedro de Valle Scholarship.

“Being Hispanic myself I never heard of the Marine Corps until I was 16 years old and being here, and being able to tell my story shows others that they can do it as well and they have the opportunity to excel in life,” explained Montes. 

Upon the conclusion of group exercises, a luncheon was conducted followed by a panel discussion which included Juan Sanchez, from University of Southern Florida, Rita Bautista with the Home Builders Association of Greater New Orleans, Master Sergeant Abiud Montes and Midshipmen Escajeda who recently received the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps Scholarship. 

Students who were nominated to attend the event are in high school, and are college-bound Latinos who excel in school and have a high interest in achieving a balanced body, mind and spirit life. 

Future Body, Mind and Spirit Seminars that will be presented by the Marine Corps and the LOFT program will be held on April 26, 2017 at Mills College in Oakland, Calif., and May 2, 2017 at Wayne State University in Detroit.

For more information about the Hispanic Heritage Foundation visit

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