Marine finds home in Corps
By Cpl. Pedro Cardenas
| Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego | November 01, 2013
San Diego --
Pvt. Sovaja R. Knox, Platoon 3241, Company I, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, learned life lessons and developed mental toughness at a young age. Every challenge in his path made him stronger and inspired him to become a Marine.
Knox’s mother was 16 at the time of his birth. She worked three jobs to support Knox after his father left to enlist in the Navy.
Knox attended Ronald Wilson Reagan High School in Milwaukee, a predominantly white school. It was a tough time being one the few black students in the school. His mother’s advice, according to Knox, “If it’s not true then don’t listen to people.”
“Kids wouldn’t let me sit with them on the bus,” said 18-year-old Knox. “They called me names and made noises.”
Despite the bullying, Knox managed to make the correct decisions to keep him in a path to better himself. He stayed focused mentally and physically. He applied himself academically and achieved mostly A’s and B’s and played basketball in high school.
Knox found solace by going to church. However, he was regarded an outsider in his community as well.
“They figured since I was attending school with the white kids that I wasn’t black enough,” said Knox. “I felt like I was misplaced.”
As high school graduation approached, Knox began to search for a place where he would fit in; a place where he would make a difference for someone else. He drew his inspiration from his basketball coach, a former Army soldier, and began juggling the idea to enlist.
“There are always people that are in a worse situation than me,” said Knox. “Even if I don’t change the world, I will spark the brain of someone who will change the world.”
Knox enlisted in the Marine Corps and shipped off to recruit training Aug. 5. He found the challenge he was looking for and much more.
“I feel the Marine Corps is the place for me. It pushes me to my limits,” said Knox.
At the beginning, Knox had to make an imposing adjustment. During recruit training, every facet is systematized from the eating schedule to how long recruits are able to use the restroom or shower.
“He struggled at first and had to make a life adjustment of being told what to do, when to do it and how to do it,” said Sgt. Elias R. Jimenez, senior drill instructor. “He always had to do things for himself (before recruit training) so it was an adjustment for him.”
Knox said he always pushes himself to prove his critics wrong and recruit training was not the exception. When drill instructors asked whether he would meet marksmanship qualification or be dropped to the next training company, Knox responded by qualifying as a high sharp shooter. Knox’s success stemmed from his additional effort.
“Every night I practiced my breathing and trigger control,” said Knox. “I wanted to prove them wrong so I kept practicing.”
Knox’s strong work ethic, mental toughness and dedication to duty have helped him throughout recruit training. With these same traits he hopes to achieve his life-long goals to include attending Marquette University to major in music production and entrepreneur business.
“I love music,” said Knox. “It was a way for me to express myself and also helped me get through tough times by listening to the lyrics and realizing that other people have gone through similar situations.”
Once he graduates, Knox will attend to the School of Infantry at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif. to train as an infantryman.
“He is definitely a team player. He just needs to remember what he came here for and never lose sight of that,” said 26-year-old Jimenez.