“Earned. Never Given.”: Class of 2018’s Jenny Rios Reflects on Her Life in the US Marines


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[All Pictures provided by Jenny Rios]

By Katie Williams

Class of 2018 graduate Jenny Rios discovered at the age of 10 that she wanted to join the Marines, but it was not until her senior year of at Ukiah High School that she made her choice. She chose the Marines because they held “the highest standards.” She remembered how Marines “looked sharp, their uniforms were spotless,” Rios recalled one of the Marine’s mottos: “Earned. Never Given.”

Rios serves as a network administrator and a fiber optic and cable splicer:“I can set up a network and communicate with other bases and military operations whether they are local or on deployment in other countries.” She can also set up and repair communications through wiring and cable splicing.

Having graduated from Ukiah High in 2018, Rios has completed over two years of service in the Marines. Rios said she had not been deployed anywhere yet, but her unit went on deployment at the beginning of 2020 in Dubai. Rios said she stayed back in the United States and helped keep the network IP so that the Marines who were on the deployment could communicate with them.

Rios spoke to her experience at Ukiah High and how it helped her on her path to becoming a Marine. As soon as she enlisted, Rios enrolled in Ukiah High’s BFS (bigger, faster, stronger) program with Mr. Ford. “I immediately saw progress, I was running faster, I was building more strength and more confidence in my abilities to do whatever I set my heart to.” 

For any Wildcat interested in being a Marines, Rios says, “Don’t think about it, just do it. Because whether you make a four-year contract or you become a lifetime Marine, you’re going to get something out of it. She said one of the best aspects of being a Marine is the fact that, “You are going to learn, to experience things that you wouldn’t as a civilian. People look at you and have so much respect because not everyone can say, ‘I’m A United States Marine’.”

Rios spoke to the feeling of serving the United States: “Serving my country feels like I’m giving back”. She recalled a memory of her First Sergeant telling her about how by being in the military, you learn about your branch’s history. Rios celebrated being part of the Marine’s legacy, thinking about all the Marines before who served and fought for our country. Ultimately, Rios said she serves her country because, “I feel like I can protect those that I love, especially my family. My mom once told me that she was the one who would always protect me. But now it’s me that protects her. That is the one thing that sticks to me and motivates me.”

Katie Williams
Katie Williams
Katie Williams is an Editor in Chief for the Ukiah High School Newspaper and a Junior at UHS. Katie enjoys writing about emotion based and community oriented pieces, and is the head producer for the @ukiahilite instagram page. Outside of school Katie enjoys baking, reading and assisting her family in reaching out to our community. After high school Katie would like attend University and Major in Psychology to work with children that “deserve better, they need someone to listen”.

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