Lance Cpl. Derek Manis is used to excellence and commitment. That’s why he feels so at home at Xavier.
Derek, a 23-year-old pre-med student at Xavier, is also a Marine, one who has two deployments under his belt with the 3/5 Scout Sniper Platoon out of Camp Pendleton, California. The Covington, Ky., native joined the Marines right after high school and served in the infantry as a member of the scout sniper platoon. After being stationed in the Middle East in countries like Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, he went to East Timor in Indonesia to help train their army.
He completed his four-year commitment in 2015, and then it was on to the next goal: A degree from Xavier.
At first, he didn't think his high school grades would get him into Xavier, so he studied for a semester at another Cincinnati area college. He did so well that he was able to transfer to Xavier in January and earned a 3.9 GPA in his first semester. Now he's enrolled full-time in summer classes, taking core courses and the challenging General Biology and lab classes required for pre-med students.
“I come from a Catholic background and my whole life, I saw Xavier as a step above everyone else,” he says. “There is no comparison in the level of quality of the education you get.”
Fascinated by the brain and how little we know about it, Derek would like to go to medical school and study neuroscience, and possibly become a brain surgeon. His grandfather has dementia, and he knows people with ADHD, and he's fascinated with the idea of understanding more about such neurological conditions and how the brain works.
The physical and mental self-discipline he learned in the military—and being accepted at Xavier—have put him on the right path.
“I wouldn’t be here today unless I’d joined the Marine Corps,” he says. “You grow up really quick there. It influenced my learning and schoolwork and how important it is. In the Marine Corps, you learn how to push yourself beyond your capabilities, and I’ve adapted that to my schoolwork.”
One of the best things about Xavier is the faculty, he says.
“The professors here want to see you do good,” he says. “I am in the Natural Sciences program, in class Monday through Saturday. I love it.”
He says he also loves his core classes, and everyday he still uses the skills he learned in his English Composition class. If all goes well, he will graduate in December 2017 with a BS in Natural Science.
“I want to help people out,” he says. “It’s not for the money but the challenge that’s been put in front of me.”
As a student veteran, Derek also enjoys the benefits of Xavier’s Center for Veterans Affairs, where he also works part time in the office. There's the camaraderie of other veterans and the way the center helps students with counseling about the Post/911 G.I. Bill, academic advising, and use of computers and printers.
“I couldn’t be more pleased,” he says. “Every kid here has such an optimistic outlook. I can’t say how fortunate I am that a school like this would allow me to go here. The G.I. Bill only pays $20,000. If Xavier was not a Yellow Ribbon school, I’d have to pay the rest. But after experiencing my first semester at Xavier, I would have paid the extra tuition to go here.”
He says the Veterans Center can help you find resources around campus.
“There’s no comparison to Xavier,” he says. “I almost feel spoiled in that I’ve come to an institution that produces people like they do. I am so grateful and honored to be a student at Xavier University. I’m so happy to be a Muskie.”