Challenging Child Becomes A Marine Handling Challenges
Marine Cpl. Patricia Coria is back home in Fruita on a 30-day leave after a one-year tour in Japan. It is a challenge for her to visit all family or friends she hasn’t seen for a year-and-half during the limited time before she moves on to San Diego for her next tour of duty.
But Cpl. Coria is familiar with challenges far greater.
Born in Mexico, but raised in Fruita, this second-oldest daughter of six children to Amadaeo and Margarita Coria was expected to walk two cultural lines. The first, grow up a soft-spoken woman, get married, settle down close to parents and raise children.The other to speak your opinion, be independent, and make your own decisions.
Coria struggled with those expectations. “I was outspoken. I challenged every authority in every way,” she said “I just wanted to get away from here.”
That’s why when she graduated one-year early from Fruita Monument in 2009 and enlisted, everyone was surprised, except two people: Coria and one of her middle school teachers, Lisa Wills. They knew she could do it, and accomplish much more in life.
Wills remembers when this eighth grader came into her room. “I’m going to have to keep my eyes on her,” the teacher said. “She is going to be a challenge. But I also saw a spark of something in her.”
After completing her Marine training and tour duty, Coria admits the same sentiment, but she won’t talk about the kind of constant trouble she got into.
“Even the principal said I would never graduate,” she said.
Wills taught Leadership, Education Achievement to Graduation, a program to support and help students learn how to stay in school, in class and use their skills in life.
“I came to love that class. I didn’t at first. Ms. Wills is a listener, not a judge,” Coria said.
In L.E.A.G. she learned more control of her words, her actions and developed a career goal — graduate early and join the Marines.
She enlisted over the objections of her parents, yet Patricia made them proud when she became the first female in her family to go into military service.
When the former student visited her teacher’s house, just a block away from the Coria’s home, both became comfortable friends again. They would listen, laugh, lament, or praise the new challenges in Patricia’s life.
Last month she became a nationalized citizen of the United States before she finished her one-year tour of duty in Japan during which she also advanced to the rank of corporal.
“Everyone told me, ‘no one gets promoted in Japan.’ Before I left, I was the first person — ever in Japan. ”
Her eyes sparkle with pride and happiness for attaining both of those goals, which will help her succeed in her main career goal.
“I plan to be the first female Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps,” she said.
There are very few Sergeant Majors in the Marines, and no women in that rank. Patricia Coria knows that, but she has set that high goal for herself. She doesn’t intend to back down.
“I’m a lifer,” she said. “The Marines have given me challenges”.
This petite yet leather-tough 21-year-old Marine from Fruita has gone from being a challenging child to most people in authority to realizing that her friend Lisa Wills and the Marines have helped her to handle any challenges with authority in life.