ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Since Shane Azizi was young, one piece of advice from his father Jahan always stuck with him; “No matter what you choose to do, you can always do it better with an education.”
With his father’s words in mind Shane selected an educational path immediately after graduating Plymouth Canton High School in Canton, Mich., in 2003. Little did he know this was his first step towards becoming a Marine Corps officer.
“In high school I was not thinking about the military,” said Aziz. “After I graduated high school, the military was always a thought, what could I do if school does not work out.”
Azizi attended Schoolcraft Community College and completed an associate’s degree in biomedical engineering in 2007.
After graduating, Azizi began working at the University of Michigan hospital in 2008 as a laser technician, as the unstable job market had made it hard for him to find work in his field.
In 2010 Azizi began attending Eastern Michigan University part time, and started working out with students who were slated to attend Naval Specialist Warfare School and talked him into taking a Navy Specialist Warfare test.
After completing paperwork with a navy recruiter, in 2011 Aziz would learn that his family’s history would bring an obstacle to his journey.
His father, who is Iranian born, traveled to the United States at the age of 17 and began working odd jobs to make ends meet.
“I could not get a top secret clearance because my father was born in Iran,” Azizi said. “I think everything happens for a reason and the only hard part was realizing that it was something out of my control. You can not control who your parents are or where they come from.”
“He is just an American guy with a funny last name,” he added.
In 2012 Aziz began looking into Army Special Forces programs, but his Navy recruiter recommended he speak with the Marines.
By December 2012 Azizi completed a Bachelor of Science degree in Applied Technology with a focus on Biomedical Engineering. In the spring of 2013 he sought out a Marine Corps recruiting station in Ypsilanti, Mich., and was directed to the Officer Selection Team in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Azizi attended a two week immersion camp in North Carolina in May 2013 and at the time was in contact with Capt. Nathan Harmon, Recruiting Station Detroit’s Officer Selection Officer out of Ann Arbor, Mich.
“He was leaving for North Carolina the next day,” said Harmon. “The last thing I said to him on the phone was to talk to his peers during training.”
Mid-way through the course Harmon received a phone call from Azizi choosing the Marine Corps officer program.
“Being put in a leadership position, that made all the difference,” said Azizi. “I had no reservation cutting ties with the Army to join the Marines.”
Harmon and Azizi began working on an Officer Candidate Course program package in June 2013.
The package submitted included an essay written by Azizi explaining why he wanted to be a Marine Corps officer.
“The process offered Shane a chance to look inward while working on his officer candidate course package. By writing no more than 100 words he was able to reflect on himself and used his father’s story,” said Harmon.
He wanted to note his father and the adversity he encountered as a young man in Iran, he added. At the age of 17 his father’s parents used the money they had to send him to America to escape the draft that would make him a part of a civil war.
“He used his father’s situation as a motivator to have a positive impact for more people vice just himself,” Harmon said.
Harmon submitted a package for Azizi in the OCC program and was one of 38 selected out of 63 for a Marine Corps Officer reserve contract Oct. 28.
“I called him immediately to congratulate him and told him to come by the office,” Harmon said. “We shook hands; I gave him a welcome aboard tin and some OCC knowledge.”
“The journey makes the finish worth that much more and I am happy with the way things turned out,” said Azizi. “The dream was not to be a Navy SEAL, the dream was always to serve my country.”
Azizi is slated to attend Officer Candidate School in January 2014 at Quantico, Va., then The Basic School before earning a military occupational specialty.