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Staff Sgt. Allegra Pankratz celebrates her admittance into Yale University with her siblings.

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A knowledge of “Light and Truth,” Marine gains acceptance into Yale University

24 Jan 2018 | Jeremy Beale/Staff Writer Marine Corps Base Quantico

Marine Corps Base Quantico (MCBQ), Voluntary Education Center (VEC) helped Staff Sgt. Allegra Pankratz, formerly of Marine Corps Embassy Security Group (MCESG), gain acceptance into Yale University through the Marine Enlisted Commissioning Education Program (MECEP).

The MECEP program is designed to help enlisted Marines who display superior academics the opportunity to obtain a bachelor’s degree and commission into the Marine Corps as an officer at the rank of second lieutenant.

According to Pankratz, being accepted into the MECEP program was a tedious process as everything had to fall into place at the same time.

She had to be selected for MECEP, gain admittance into her choice of schools and attend Officer Candidates School (OCS) in the same year. Selected MECEP Marines are expected to attend a 10-week OCS course.  Upon completion of OCS the Marine attends a university with an accredited Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) program. 

She applied to four Ivy League schools during her time at OCS, making it her mission to be accepted into one of them.

Pankratz completed the OCS course and is expected to begin her classes in the spring, studying political science. She hopes to go into military intelligence or public affairs.

Even before she joined the Marine Corps, she was set on becoming an officer in the Marine Corps.

In high school Pankratz always assumed she would go to college and had never considered other pathways where she could achieve the same outcome.

After hearing the opportunities the Marine Corps offered, she enlisted in 2011. She had always planned to go to college, but reconsidered after seeing the cost of tuition.

While in the Marine Security Guard Program, Pankratz took as many online courses as possible through the Voluntary Education Center setting herself up to complete her degree through the MECEP Program.

She was inspired to apply to Ivy League schools after reading a New York Times article about the small number of veterans admitted into those universities.

After reading the article she chose to finish her degree in a purposeful way.

She originally planned to attend Pennsylvania State University for her last few semesters, when her officer in charge suggested applying to Yale.

When she joined the Marine Corps, she never lost sight of that goal, but did admit it fell back on her list of priorities.

While in the MCESG program, she had the opportunity to work with some of the world’s most educated individuals, as well as some who were never given the chance to complete high school. Although she learned from both Marines she was reminded of the value of education.

“I witnessed the appreciation of education in countries where it was less prevalent,” Pankratz said. “The military provides so many opportunities for Marines to educate themselves and it’s not something that should be taken for granted.”

According to Pankratz, the Marine Corps invested in her to go to college and she owes it to the Corps to be able to get the best education possible and she thinks Yale is the best place to do that.

“How can you say no to Yale,” Pankratz said. “My experience in the Marine Corps has provided me with relevance for what I will be studying.  I now have a world view and frame of reference as to why critical thinking, writing and problem solving are so important.”

She said the Marine Corps has given her the maturity to understand and appreciate the opportunity.

“As a leader, it’s important to constantly be learning and expanding your comfort zone,” Pankratz said. “When you do this, you’re raising the bar for everyone around you and making the Marine Corps a better place.   By achieving something that seems impossible it makes others look at themselves and ask what they can accomplish.”

For more information, about the MECEP program contact the VEC by phone at 703-784-3340 or email at


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