Reflections of a Harvard Marine Corps Veteran

Reflections of a Harvard Marine Corps Veteran

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John J. Gennace
February 19, 2013

Before I arrived in Washington, D.C., I was entirely confident that the experience would be positive. But I never anticipated the lasting impression those 10 days would leave on my Harvard classmates and I. To be sure, the seminar motivated some to seriously consider a run for office, while it also had quite the opposite effect on others.  For me it served to reaffirm that I am indeed on the correct path towards fulfilling my academic and career aspirations.


Reaffirming My Chosen Career Path


Even though I have always been deeply fascinated by the American political system, I have little interest in seeking elected office, which was only reinforced by the seminar. Rather, I remain steadfast in my goal of working on national security and defense policy matters. Our site visits to places such as the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the United States Institute for Peace and the Millennium Challenge Corporation provided an overview into global economic development initiatives and international human rights treaties that I found both fascinating and enlightening.


A Fantastic Experience for Any Major


Although I, along with most of my Harvard classmates, are international relations majors, the inauguration seminar turned out to be a fantastic experience for all. Clearly domestic politics cannot be discounted in the international realm; therefore, the seminar provided extremely valuable and arguably necessary insight into contemporary American politics and many of the most vexing problems facing our nation. During the seminar, I engaged in intense debates and discussions with my classmates on a number of issues and despite our disagreements, we all agreed on the critical importance of solving these problems for the good of the nation. Therefore, students who genuinely care about the future of America, regardless of their academic major, would stand to benefit from attending this type of seminar in the future.


Long-Lasting Connections


On a deeply personal level the seminar provided a venue that enabled me to establish some genuine friendships with my classmates. Prior to arriving in D.C., I had never met many of my Harvard classmates attending the seminar and, admittedly, I was somewhat apprehensive. As a Marine Corps veteran I was unsure if I would be accepted by my peers. My concerns were cast aside rather quickly, however, as I came to realize that we had much more in common than I expected. The morning sessions and afternoon site visits gave way to group dinners and late night discussions that sowed the seeds of mutual respect and genuine friendship within our group. We left D.C. determined to make a difference in our spheres of influence. Whether pursuing elected office in D.C., a career in business or perhaps one in public policy, all of us completed the seminar having been convinced that we have a duty to positively influence our nation for the greater good.


Check out albums from the Inauguration Academic Seminar on our Flickr channel:


1. Inauguration Seminar: Day 1

2. Inauguration Seminar: Day 1 | Bus Tour

3. Inauguration Seminar: Day 2

4. Inauguration Seminar: Day 3

5. Inauguration Seminar: Day 4

6. Inauguration Seminar: Day 5

7. Inauguration Seminar: National Press Club

8. Inauguration Seminar: Day 6

9. Inauguration Seminar: Day of Service

10. Inauguration Seminar Site Visits


John Gennace is a junior at Harvard University in Cambridge, MA.  John is an international relations major. Gennace is the Outreach Coordinator for Crimson Serves, a student-led organization dedicated to supporting Harvard’s military veterans and cadets.

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