Sophomore Mitchell Moutard swears in with 1st Lt. Billy Van­Vianen. Katie Scheu | Col­legian

Hillsdale has more stu­dents training to be Marine officers than any other college or uni­versity in Michigan, according to the Marine’s Ann Arbor Officer Selection Station.

The college has 10 can­di­dates involved in Platoon Lead­ership Class while Michigan State Uni­versity, the school with the next-highest number of can­di­dates, has seven. The Uni­versity of Michigan has three.

When looking at the per­centage of under­grad­uates involved in PLC at each school, Hillsdale far exceeds other insti­tu­tions. If UM and MSU had the same per­centage of stu­dents involved as Hillsdale, they would produce 202 and 279 PLC can­di­dates respec­tively.

Marine Gunnery Sgt. Dominic Freda believes such a large number of Hillsdale stu­dents are involved with PLC because so many of its stu­dents have a desire to serve and give back to their country.

“Those with a Hillsdale degree, they have options, but serving is one of those big ones,” Freda said.

And according to Freda, Hillsdale doesn’t just produce a large quantity of can­di­dates, but also a high quality of can­didate.

“One thing that we know that’s coming out of Hillsdale is that they believe in the Con­sti­tution and that they’re morally, men­tally, and phys­i­cally capable,” Freda said.

PLC is an officer training program for freshman, sophomore, and junior college stu­dents inter­ested in becoming officers in the Marines. Can­di­dates who suc­cess­fully com­plete the program have the oppor­tunity to accept a com­mission as a second lieu­tenant in the Marine Corps. During the summers before their senior year, can­di­dates must com­plete six- or 10-week officer can­didate schools.

Before enrolling in Hillsdale, sophomore Josh Bailey took a gap year when he wasn’t accepted into the Naval Academy. In his first semester at the college, Bailey signed on with PLC.

“The mil­itary has been on my mind for a long time,” he said. “I was actually thinking about enlisting during high school and going into the reserves during college, but my parents didn’t want me to do that.”

One of the reasons Hillsdale has so many stu­dents who become PLC can­di­dates is because of the type of student it attracts — the type of people Bailey describes as patriots. A lot of stu­dents con­sidered mil­itary acad­emies before coming to Hillsdale, he said.  

Another reason Bailey believes Hillsdale has so many PLC can­di­dates is that stu­dents here hold a common value with the Marines: “to defend the Con­sti­tution against enemies foreign and domestic.”

Sophomore Aubrey Brown said she knew she wanted to be in the mil­itary since she was young and enjoys the dif­ferent type of expe­rience she has in PLC than she wouldn’t oth­erwise get as a part of her cheer team or with her Chi Omega sorority sisters.

“In my PLC program I’m hanging out with a lot of boys doing a lot of pushups, where in sorority life I’m wearing high heels and hanging out with girls,” Brown said. “But they’re more similar than they are dif­ferent, the sis­terhood and the broth­erhood.”

Brown said she sees dis­ci­pline as a value shared by both Hillsdale and the Marines.

Brown also said when Hillsdale’s PLC can­di­dates go to monthly “pool” events with other Michigan college stu­dents involved in PLC, the Hillsdale can­di­dates stand out.

“We carry our­selves a way other stu­dents don’t,” Brown said. “There’s an air of con­fi­dence that I think a lot of other stu­dents don’t have.”

Freda agreed with Brown.

“Gen­erally when they’re in a group, the Hillsdale guy is the one that wants to step up and lead the group,” he said.

And while Hillsdale stu­dents often lead at pool events and Brown said Hillsdale’s PLC can­di­dates are a close-knit group, she also said they’re willing to help can­di­dates from other schools.

“Hillsdale stu­dents go out of their ways to help the other poolees,” she said.