A 17-year-old leader in the Cherry Point Young Marines spent six days at the United Nations in New York at the international Commission on the Status of Women.
Alex Messmer, a student at Early College East in Havelock, is one of three students from the region participating. Two other Young Marines from New River are attending. They are among just 20 Young Marines nationwide joining 750 delegates at the forum.
"They talk about the status of equal rights for women and what is happening in their country over the past year. This is where they talk about what needs to change," Messmer said. "The reason why it’s vital is that women can provide a lot of success to the economy and to your community. They’re not just an object."
Messmer said that men should spend more time standing up for women in abusive situations.
"Sometimes women can’t speak out and thrive because they are under the oppression of a bad community and they get no help from their male counterparts," Messmer said.
Messmer is also on a national award winning engineering team that is traveling to Germany in April for an international trade show with their remote operating research submarine.
Messmer has been in the Cherry Point Young Marines since he was 8.
"It’s taught me to basically get ahead on everything," he said. "I bring leadership. I’m confident. My pubic speaking is excellent. I’ve got opportunities. I’ve been offered a job before I even have a degree."
Messmer is the regimental sergeant major for the 1st and 2nd Batallion of the Young Marine organization in Eastern North Carolina, where he is in charge of 100 Young Marines. He spends 200 hours of community service each year.
"The main reason for volunteering for your community is because you want to change the outlook of the way people view you, and one thing that is very often stereotyped is that teenagers are destructive, not very reliable and the list could go on and on," he said. "One thing that you can do is set yourself apart from that stereotype by doing things for the community and helping it improve.
"Once I get out of school, I plan on finishing my degree for engineering in the avionics field and from there I plan on taking up a job offer that I was given to work in Huntsville, Ala., to work at Redstone Arsenal where I would be using my engineering degree, and then on the side I would be in the reserves program with the Marine Corps where I could still do my part for my service to the country."