Senior profile: Kyle McDonald

Last January, while most of his friends began looking at colleges, Kyle McDonald realized college was not for him. Instead he followed in the footsteps of his older cousin, Alex Toppan, and enlisted in the Marines.

Kyle’s enlistment process began last spring. He first had to have both his parents sign off on his enlistment, and he has attended weekly and monthly meetings ever since. The meetings can range from a six hour workout, to a four mile hike with gear on. The next step for Kyle is boot camp, which begins in July. He said this is a grueling process.

“Basically you go, they break you down, yell at you, tell you you suck, tell you you’re worth dirt, but as long as you don’t quit, you’re in,” Kyle said.

Kyle said the first two weeks are referred to as ‘hell weeks’ because officers try to weed out the people who cannot handle it, but after that camp becomes easier.

Toppan joined the Marines January 2010 and finished his enlistment last July. He said the Marines allowed him to experience things that most people don’t, such as going to parts of the world that some people never see. He said he he thinks joining the Marines will be a good learning experience for Kyle.

“You figure out life,” Toppan said. “You figure out how everything works, so I think it’s probably the best decision he could make.”

Kyle originally planned on joining infantry in the Marines, but surprised himself by qualifying to be a technician. In order to determine jobs in the Marines, all enlistments take the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test, which determines qualifications based on a series of 11 different tests. He scored high enough on the exam to qualify for any position he wanted Since he has always enjoyed working with electricity he decided to become an avionics-electronics technician.

After his enlistment, Kyle hopes to obtain a technician job similar to his job in the marines but said he will try to go to college if he has no other options. More importantly, Kyle hopes to learn to appreciate life. Toppan said Kyle needs to gain maturity, and the Marines will provide a way to do so.

“He’s a smart kid, but he definitely needs to grow and he needs to learn,” Toppan said. “I think going through this stage, he’s going to learn a lot. But I think in the end he’ll come out successful.”