Providing security for the president of the United States is one of the most critical jobs around. Saint Leo University undergraduate student Don Eubanks can say he had a hand in this role during his five-year stint in the Marine Corps.

"I did the presidential security program for two and a half years in Washington, D.C. and at Camp David," Eubanks explains. "While in D.C., I was at the White House and had guard duty at the Marine Barracks. This entire program was a blessing in disguise. It wasn't something I thought I'd specifically do, but it was an experience that I will never forget."

He says interacting with the president was a true thrill.

"President Obama was as courteous in person as he seems on television," he recalls. "He was always very respectful of the members aboard Camp David. He really made my mom proud when we met him at the Oval Office."

His Path to Saint Leo University

The 25-year-old native of Land O'Lakes, Fla. Who resides in Lutz is now attaining a bachelor's degree in Saint Leo's BA in Criminal Justice program.

"I first applied to Saint Leo when I was a high school senior and got accepted but decided to join the Marines. So, I reapplied afterward, and they got me back in."

Fran Reidy, who is Saint Leo's athletic director, coached Eubanks in competitive soccer. The veteran also spent some time at games on campus and had friends who went to the school and enjoyed their experience.

He is currently enrolled in a unique English course called The World of Harry Potter, which is being taught by Dr. Kathryn Duncan.

"I had Dr. Duncan for a class last year and really liked the way she taught," he says. "This was back when she was floating the idea of offering it. It was going to have a trip to Europe as part of the class, and it sounded like a really cool idea. I had a possible job opportunity to work as a private security contractor in the Middle East, which paid good money, and I hadn't really gotten the 'school bug' yet. I told her if she could get it approved, I'd be the first one to sign up for it."

It was indeed approved, and Eubanks is thrilled to have stayed at Saint Leo to continue his education.

Enlisting in the Military

There are countless reasons current and former military members give as to why they made the choice to serve their nation. According to Eubanks, there were two reasons that led him to take this courageous step.

"9/11 was the big reason I joined because I wanted to help protect this country," he explains. "Also, my dad was in the Marines and then became a police officer, and my grandfather was in the Army."

He was stationed in North Carolina, Washington, D.C. and Maryland. He worked his way up to being a corporal in the Marine Corps.

As for those who are considering entering the military, Eubanks says everyone has to have a fairly clear goal in mind of what they hope to get out of such an experience.

"Know what you want to do," he says. "I used to see some people who didn't realize why they were really there. When you're out in the field for a week, it comes out who is there for the right reasons."

Experience as a Saint Leo University Student

He says he's enjoyed the time he has spent at the university.

"I haven't had a bad professor yet. I was a little apprehensive about transitioning from the military to school, but I must say that the services for veterans at Saint Leo have been awesome."

From the Marines to Civilian Life

Eubanks admits there is a process involved in exiting the military and jumping back into a civilian lifestyle.

"I was so used to spending all my days with the 30 guys in my platoon. When I started college, I really didn't know anyone around me. But having the routine of classes 5 days per week has definitely helped."

Career Considerations

In addition to working on his degree, he has a part-time job at a local golf shop.

Eubanks hopes to put his forthcoming criminal justice degree to good use for the government.

"I would like to work for an agency like the FBI or the Department of Homeland Security," he confides.

Photo credit: The photograph included in this blog post was provided by Don Eubanks and is used with permission.