For Susan Suber, there was nothing not to love about her trip to Oregon last summer as a member of the Young Marines.
Except, maybe, the 5:30 rise-and-shine time for workouts.
But even then, “They made it fun and we worked out together with each other,” said the 16-year-old Pipersville teenager, who was one of 60 youth to attend the Young Marines’ Advanced Leadership School in June 2022. “That was something I really pushed myself to perform my best at, and I enjoyed helping my other Young Marines.”
The Advanced Leadership School, according to the national nonprofit program’s website, is “for Young Marines who have exhibited exceptional maturity and leadership skills in their units. Adult leaders often call upon these Young Marines to handle leadership situations and provide the inspiration to those under their charge.”
In addition to broadening their mentoring skills, the Young Marines built friendships and created memories through an array of experiences over the course of two weeks. They studied land navigation and worked with compasses; they practiced marching; they learned about the job interview process and how to deal with finances.
“It was really an amazing experience and I can’t say how grateful I am for it,” said the Central Bucks East sophomore, a member of Willow Grove’s Spartan Young Marines unit out of Division 1, which is comprised of nine states – Pennsylvania, New York, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey and Massachusetts.
Suber joined the Young Marines, a youth education and service program for boys and girls ages 8 through high school graduation, when she was 9 years old and credits the program for helping her come into her own.
“Our core values are leadership, self-discipline and teamwork,” she said. “We focus a lot on leadership and being able to get kids outside of their comfort zone, and teamwork is really important too. All the things we’re able to teach our youth who are involved in the program really just set them up for success later in life.
“Personally I cannot say how much this program has done for me because it’s made me just so much more talkative, just more involved.”
Suber is a two-time recipient of the Unit Young Marine of the Year award and was named Battalion Young Marine of the Year in 2020 and Regimental Young Marine of the Year in 2021 – and earlier this year she added yet another feather to her cap when she was named the Division 1 Young Marine of the Year.
As her division’s top representative, she is one of six finalists for the National Young Marine of the Year award, the highest honor bestowed by the program. She and five other division winners will compete for the title next month.
“I am so proud and honored to be able to have this opportunity, and I can’t wait to continue my Young Marine career this year by representing my division and my unit,” Suber said. “It means so much to me.”
Susan is the daughter of Denise Suber, a Young Marines adult volunteer, and Dave Suber.
As a member of the Young Marines, Susan Suber has attended three leadership schools (Junior, Senior and Advanced) and instructed at one Junior Leadership School. She’s also participated in SPACES-Adventure Links and the Young Marines Public Affairs Course.
Suber is actively involved in her community – having consistently earned the Young Marines’ Gold Presidential Volunteer Service Award – and works with her unit to promote appreciation of U.S. veterans, whether by helping place flags, marching in the Doylestown Memorial Day Parade or through other acts of service.
The relationships she’s been able to build with veterans is one of her favorite aspects of being a Young Marine, she noted.
“Being able to create really close friendships with our local American Legion is such an amazing opportunity, and we have some great memories with those guys,” added Suber, whose volunteer work extends outside of the Young Marines as a youth ambassador for Toys for Tots.
Looking toward the future, Suber has her sights set on attending the U.S. Naval Academy. Looking back on the past seven years, she has some strong words of encouragement for any young person considering joining a youth or service organization.
“Go for it, definitely. There are so many amazing opportunities that will be presented to you,” she stressed. “It is really important to step outside of your comfort zone because when you step outside of your comfort zone, you’re truly able to experience life and get out there and see all the possibilities that you might not have had before.”