Amanda Marshall ’11: Working with some of the highest-ranked military officers in the world

Anna Lapteva

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Upon entering high school, Marshall knew that her experience at Foothill was going to be academically difficult, because she remembers her brother “spent a lot of time on doing homework and all sorts of crazy projects” during the weekends.

“I knew that it was going to be very difficult, I just don’t think I realized the extent to which it would be,” Marshall said. “Even though I thought I was prepared, I was still in for a little bit of a shock, especially once I got into my junior year.”

 

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As a student, Marshall was involved in Speech and Debate as well as the Foothill Intervention, Reinforcement and Enrichment (FIRE) program. In Speech and Debate, Marshall participated in debate once then switched to speech, where she won the novice tournament and then left the program. She particularly enjoyed this program because she “really liked Mrs. Kindred as a teacher and a mentor, and a person.”

Amanda Marshall's senior portrait in the yearbook.

Amanda Marshall’s senior portrait in the yearbook.

Marshall remarked on how “going through that whole process of going to an event and the nerves that you get when doing it, and seeing the reaction of everyone makes it really cool” to participate in Speech and Debate.

Marshall took all AP courses besides AP Physics in senior year, which ultimately made her receive salutatorian instead of valedictorian. From her experience, she believes that AP courses provided her with the “ability to analyze in an essay, to memorize facts, to be able to sit down and say ‘I have to study for five hours’ even if I want to do this and that.”

The hardest course she took was AP U.S. History, because it involved the “most memorization, most analysis, most essays, most everything.”

Reflecting on her experience in high school, Marshall felt that her experience at Foothill was made most memorable by the incredible level of growth in her self confidence.

“I look back on myself and I was a different person for sure back then,” Marshall said. “I was a lot more insecure, I was very shy, I felt like I wasn’t super smart compared to everybody, so I was very, very critical of myself, and I think what makes it memorable is just looking back on that time and realizing that I should have had more faith in myself.”

 

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As a student, Marshall believes her greatest weakness was underestimating and being overly self-critical. However, her greatest strength was her persistence.

She said, “I was hard on myself, but I was not going to quit. Not even in terms of graduation, but I’ve put in all this hard work and I want to see it through.”

Amanda Marshall's baby picture in the yearbook.

Amanda Marshall’s baby picture in the yearbook.

By the time she graduated, Marshall felt very prepared for what was to come.

“Everyone that taught me how to critically think about anything […] helped me immensely,” Marshall said.

Marshall graduated from Foothill in 2011, and continued on to attend University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), where she double-majored in linguistics and Russian. She finished her degree in four years, and went abroad to live in Kazakhstan for a year in order to be exposed to professional Russian.

Currently, Marshall works as a program specialist for the National Defense University in Washington D.C., where she organizes the stays of military officials from around the world.

“I use my cultural experience on a daily basis, because I am working with high-ranked foreign military officers from all over the world,” Marshall said.

“It’s a really cool experience, but it’s also really difficult because […] I am working for people that are generals, and in very, very high positions in their home countries. It’s like, how do I assert myself and say ‘you need to do this and be here at this time and follow these rules’? […] But, it’s so great to work with people from all over the world.”

 

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Even considering her incredible successes, Marshall still feels uncertain of how her future will unfold.

“I think the best advice I could have given to myself in high school was that you’ll never be able to fully figure things out, but that’s how it’s supposed to go. Take one step at a time and choose one thing and roll with it, and if you don’t like it, you move on to the next, because that’s all we can do.”

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