From High School to the Military Life: Mariemont Students Reflect on Their Experiences


Choosing the armed forces is just as difficult as choosing a major or a college to attend. Mariemont alumni Kenny Bottom (class of ‘16), Connor Hurlock (class of ‘17), and Drew Goheen (class of ‘17) all made this tough choice.

Kenny Bottom signed up to go into the Army at the end of his junior year. It was an easy decision for Bottom.

“I knew my whole life,” Bottom said.

He said, “I would say Mariemont’s standard is to go to college and sit at a desk for you whole career. That’s not for me; I would much rather be working with my hands, ensuring the job gets done myself.”

The graduate said he respects the Marines, Navy, and Air Force for what they do, but he chose the Army “because I wanted a job that would see combat,” and “I want to be a boot on the ground.”

Bottom, stationed in Hawaii, says ever since leaving the “bubble of Mariemont,” his life has improved. He is not missing out on college because he is enrolled in college as well and plans on majoring in special education. He plans on being a special education teacher in a small school like Mariemont after his career in the army.

Bottom and his platoon training. (PHOTO BY BOTTOM)

The alum adds, “When you’re in the Army people come from all walks of life, and it doesn’t matter if you are white, black, yellow, or red. If you’re going to put your life on the line for me, you are my brother.”

Across the Pacific, Bottom has gotten used to life. “I wake up at 0430 every day, and I get off work around 1730. After that, it is all my time,” he said.

“I want to deploy so badly! You have no idea,” Bottom said. He is enlisted for the standard eight years, four years on active duty and four years on reserve. In total, Bottom said he plans on serving about 20 years.

Graduate of 2016, Connor Hurlock chose the Marines. “I wanted to do something beyond college. I didn’t really feel like I wanted to continue with schooling, and I wanted to get started with life,” he said.

Hurlock’s grandfather was a Marine in Vietnam. He says the Marines have changed his pace of his life. In order to become a Marine, recruits must spend three months on Parris Island, South Carolina.

He adds, the three months included three phases. 

“Phase one was when the drill sergeants were trying to break you down and build you up. Phase two was when we actually started doing Marine stuff; we started firing rifles. The third phase was field work. The final thing we were required to do before becoming a Marine was a three-day challenge called ‘a crucible’: it was limited hours of sleep and limited meals,” he said.

In his few months in the Marines he has learned about teamwork.

Hurlock in his dorm after liberty. (PHOTO BY HURLOCK)

“I just feel it’s ‘everyone fend for yourself,’ and there is competition. I think that’s how high school is to a point. In boot camp you learn to work as a team, and if one kid messed up, the whole platoon would have to pay for it,” he said.

Hurlock doesn’t know fully what his future holds for him.

He adds, “It may change because I have only been a Marine for a couple months, but I plan on doing my four years and then getting out.”

He is thinking about becoming an English teacher. Hurlock is attempting to get a degree in English because he has enough “liberty” on his hands after the work day.

According to Hurlock, one thing he has taken away from his experience so far has been to never burn bridges. He credits the new mentality of teamwork to his philosophy.

“There are going to be people you hate, but you can’t be outright rude to them because you never know when you’re going to need their help. If there is someone that is annoying me, I am not going to call them out because I never know when I will need their help,” he said.

Classmate of Hurlock, Drew Goheen chose a slightly different path and had a harder time choosing what to do after graduating from Mariemont. He admits the decision was tough, saying he desired to attend other universities. In the end, Goheen chose to attend the United States Military Academy Preparatory School (USMAPS), commonly referred to as West Point Prep.

“There were three factors in why I chose West Point Prep School: I wanted the challenge it brought, I didn’t want to regret not going, and West Point had been a big goal of mine, and I felt that this was going to be a sure path to it,” he said.

Goheen training in uniform. (PHOTO BY GOHEEN)

According to the graduate, West Point Prep is similar to Mariemont: “The school is very small, similar to Mariemont–word spreads fast, a lot of people know each other, and everyone does a sport or some type of club.”

“It is more regimented and strict than traditional schooling. But it is like this to get you ready for West Point. The whole point of the school is to prepare you for West Point,” adds the alum.

Things at the prep school are different for Goheen. He says it is not like your normal college experience because “if you are tired, you can’t just throw your stuff down, go to bed and not worry about it until the next afternoon. Everything needs to be placed in the right spot.”

He has taken away quite a few lessons in just the few months at USMAPS.

“I have been a lot better at time management, finding out the importance of accountability, and I have been more comfortable being able to tell someone something is not right. Also I have been able to be more decisive since attending.”

Goheen plans to continue studying at West Point Prep but is making backup plans just in case. He said, “I just had a 2+ hour meeting with my TAC officer about staying. We are working some things out.”