Hovlaine Marcellus: Seeking A Challenge and Facing Fears (06:07)
Always physically active and looking out for her family, Hovlaine Marcellus found a place to excel at both with a new family, the Army. Watch Hovlaine's journey through Basic Combat Training and pay a visit home after graduation.
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As soon as I was in, it was just like, this is all or nothing, I’m going to put my best foot forward 100%. Like, this is just something that I have to do.
I fear nothing. I honestly think that basic training is what you make of it, and you shouldn’t be scared. This is something that you signed up to do, so you just do it.
Since I’ve gotten here, I think I’ve gained more discipline, which is what I wanted. I’m so used to working by myself as an individual that I had to learn how to work as a team, and how to talk to my team. Every day, I’m seeing something new. I’m seeing a different culture. You know, I’m learning something new outside every day. And Victory Tower was probably the most challenging for me, because I didn’t think I was that afraid of heights until I actually had to rappel. They put you in certain positions where you’re not comfortable. But then again, you’re at basic, so you’re not going to be comfortable.
I think about graduation every day. I’m counting down. It’s 30 days until graduation. I feel nervous, excited, like I’m ready to start a new chapter.
Family is everything to me. I wake up early, like, my day always starts at, like, 5:00 or 6:00. So I’m just always on the go. I’ll get the kids ready for school, or drop them off to school, then I drop my older sister off to work. After I drop her off to work, I probably get ready for work myself.
Oh, she was very, very active little girl. I come from Haiti in 1994. I move to United States, I was living in Queens, New York with my aunt, and met my husband, [Hoover?].
When 9/11 hit, I was in New York. I didn’t know what was going on, I was only five at the time. But it just seemed so surreal. Like, you never expect something like that to happen to you. I lived on the 65th floor, so you could see the skyline of Manhattan. You could see everything that’s happening. Like, you just are hearing people yelling, and it’s so much chaos around you. You don’t know what to expect. Like, I was young at the time, so I didn’t know what to do. My mom was telling me to hide. Like, what do you do at five years old?
The last year of high school, she said she wants to be in the Army. And we tell her, if that’s what she wants, so go for it.
When she told me, I was really proud of her, because she’s usually determined, and I don’t know, something about her was like, yeah, I’m going to do this.
Taking care of my family, like, making sure they were OK, making sure that I can go to school, that my parents don’t have a problem paying for me. Like, at the time, that was my motivation and drive to enlist.
PT at basic was intense. It was hard. It was definitely a challenge for me, because I wasn’t used to being yelled at. Like, I usually go at my own pace. But I pushed myself hard. I definitely thought it was going to be easy, especially the running part, because I ran track.
When I’m in uniform, I feel good, because people look at me and I represent something that’s bigger than myself. I was born here. This is a part of me, just as much as everybody else that’s in America. And it doesn’t get any better than that. Like, a lot of people don’t have the same privileges as us.
I met a lot of great people, and they were my battle buddies, these other people that I went through a struggle with, some type of bond formed there. Even if I didn’t like you, it didn’t matter, because at the end of the day, if I’m downrange with you, I have to trust that you’re going to be -- you know, you’re going to have my back.
Being an AIT member, having a security clearance is definitely -- it adds more responsibility. And the people who look at my application are like, “OK, she’s in the military. Like, I know she’s going to be serious about this job. I know that she’s going to be motivated, I know that she’s going to have the discipline, I don’t have to worry about her slacking off.” So yes, being in the military is very, very beneficial, as far as, like, being in civilian life.
Coming home from AIT, it was -- it was, like, the best feeling, because when I first got off the bus, I saw my cousin, and she just screamed, like, so loud. I didn’t know who it was, and she just hugged me, and I started crying. It was amazing, because I didn’t see my family at all. They was like, “You put on a lot of weight” when I came back. I was just like, it’s muscle. (laughter)
Oh, I said, “Oh my God, you got so big.” That’s what I told her. And so I was so happy to see her, and all the rest of the family was so happy.
I ran up to her. Like, I was so happy to see her. And when she came back, she was, like, more determined, more organized.
I feel like I can go beyond 20 years, because I love it so much. And at first, it was, OK, I wanted to get the benefits. But when you meet different people and, you know, you see different things, and you learn so much, you become so invested.
When I decided to join the Army, I feel like that was the best decision in my life. The Army did much more for me that I could do for the Army.
I feel very happy for me and for her.
The youth in the community, they feel like they are a servant, to serve the community, and to serve their country as well. And nothing could stop her, because she’s always worked above negativity, and she’s ready to face that challenge, you know?
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