It wasn’t that junior Darian Jobity joined the military before enrolling in college because he didn’t know what he wanted to do. Since he caught the theater bug in high school, he planned to make movies, drawn as he was to the art of storytelling. But he needed “that bridge into manhood” he said was missing when he was coming of age in Brooklyn, where he was born and reared, and looking for a mentor who could show him a path.

So after bumping into a U.S. Marine Corps recruiter one day, he ended up on a path along the southern East Coast as a member of a security forces team guarding some of America’s nuclear arsenal.

He says he came out of boot camp with one over-arching lesson that helped him grow up fast.

“It’s not about you. You’re a part of a team, and everything you do can impact someone’s life,” says Jobity, recounting his basic training. “I realized I needed to take this seriously.”

The three and a half years he spent in the military were full of life-changing experiences. The first time he saw a submarine, when he helped transfer a nuclear weapon, was “an amazing, huge experience,” he says. And there was the time he was part of a team that apprehended some suspicious characters too close to a nuclear-armed base.

“It was a good decision for me,” says Jobity, now a film production major. “The brotherhood, the teamwork, the growth. It really built my character.”

His years of service also paved a financial path for his education, qualifying him for a GI Bill, which covers his tuition and fees, and provides a stipend for living expenses.

These days, despite being on the fast track to graduate—Jobity takes courses each summer and winter intersession in an effort to finish his courses ahead of schedule—he makes time to head the Veteran Students’ Organization, and for many lively conversations about the news of the day with his fellow Black and Latino Male Initiative members.

“That’s a safe space where I feel at home,” he says.

After completing his degree, he’s considering reenlisting with the Marines for the travel and the experiences, but he also plans to pursue his dream of becoming a film director and digital marketing professional.

“I would like to make films that inspire people,” he says. “Films that make people realize you can do things on your own two feet. It’s been one of my biggest lessons in life.”