Missouri State University
Marco Kilongkilong

Marco Kilongkilong

  • Fires and Effects Coordinator, 2-2 IN 3rd Brigade 1st Infantry Division
  • Louisville, Ky.
  • BS, Criminology, Missouri State University

A leader with a desire to serve

He came to the United States with the hope of living the American dream and eventually becoming a citizen. He came to Missouri State wanting to serve and defend his adopted country.

Many students focus on choosing a degree program at a particular college. Marco Kilongkilong focused more on choosing the college and less on the program.

"Most students change their major several times," he said. "So choosing a university based on a degree program is not only fruitless; it's a terrible decision. Prospective students should base their college decisions on culture, affordability and resources. For me, Missouri State scores high in all three categories."

His first exposure to Missouri State came when he attended the Missouri Public Affairs Academy during high school. "I was impressed, to say the least," he said. "That really helped me narrow my options....Missouri State was close to home but far enough away that it didn't feel local. I knew it was the right choice."

He also knew that he wanted to join the armed forces. "Military and police service has been in my family for generations in the Philippines," he said. "My family immigrated to the United States and one of the proudest moments of my life was gaining my citizenship here. Being able to say 'I am an American' meant a great deal. I knew that I wanted to defend my home and serve my country."

For Kilongkilong, the Army ROTC provided the route to that dream of military leadership. "The greatest benefit of Army ROTC is that it allows you to be a regular college student," he said. He was very involved on-campus. He participated with Catholic Campus Ministry, Phi Gamma Delta and many more organizations. He was also elected Homecoming King in 2010.

However, his commissioning as an officer in the U.S. Army was one of the best memories of his time at Missouri State. "I had worked vigorously for four years of my life to achieve that. When I raised my hand and swore to defend this country, I was so happy and proud."

Kilongkilong also enjoyed being a part of the unique culture of Missouri State and the city of Springfield. "Missouri State is the perfect balance of cultures," he said. "There are several conservative and liberal philosophies harmoniously merging and fusing with international influences from foreign students....When I visit [Springfield], I notice many changes for the better: more places for entertainment, places to eat and public improvement for the population. It is becoming an incredibly fascinating place."

Kilongkilong has become a leader in the United States Army, and he recognizes a culture of leadership in the student body at Missouri State. "The students are hungry to lead. Missouri State, as an institution, is ready to become a national leader in academics, sports and culture."