Honoring One of Our Own on Veterans Day

November 10, 2016

Retired after actively serving more than 27 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, Lt. Col. Michael Garrett is grateful for many things in his life including his wonderful career, his wife and Emporia State University. An independent analyst now living in Japan, Garrett was a first-generation college student, graduating with a bachelor of science degree in business administration in 1984. Garrett credits his professional success as a Marine and his prosperity to his business education and is thankful for the scholarship he received to get through school. Now he is honored to pay it forward by mentoring a student through the School of Business Mentor Program.

Garrett was raised in Kansas City, Kansas. While at Emporia State, he was a four-year varsity football player. After completing his undergraduate degree from ESU, he earned a masters of science degree in human resources, paid for by the Marine Corps, from Chapman University in Orange, California.

Garrett is married to Dr. Marta Garrett. They met in physics class in high school when he was a senior and she was a junior. Marta is also an ESU alum, attending ESU for two years. They were married shortly after Michael graduated from ESU. Garrett is proud of his wife, having earned her doctorate degree in counseling from The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. 

But Garrett’s life wasn’t always picture perfect.

“Like every story, mine comes with some high points and low points,” he says. ”My low points have to do with the murder of my mom and death of my dad.” 

His mom was murdered while working at a convenience store in Kansas City. A few years later, his dad died in prison from natural causes after he was incarcerated for a second time.

Garrett joined the Marine Corps’ Platoon Leaders Course as a sophomore at Emporia State. He went to Officer Candidate School in Quantico, Virginia, between his sophomore and junior years and then again between his junior and senior years of college. During his first period of OCS in 1982, he injured his arm after four weeks of training and had to go home. This required him to attend the 10-week OCS program during the summer of 1983. 

Upon graduation from Emporia State, he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps. After being passed over for promotion as a Marine Corps officer, he persevered and was later able to become a commanding officer of Marines in Afghanistan; the operations officer of two sections at Headquarters Marine Corps in Washington, D.C.; the OPERATIONS OFFICER of Marine Corps Logistics Command, Forward, Central Command’s Area of Responsibility; and the future operations officer of MCLC’s Logistics Operations Center. 

Garrett has a list of descriptors he gives himself: A welfare child, ESU graduate, retired Marine Officer, veteran, combat veteran, disabled veteran, husband (his most important duty), cancer survivor, and an extremely lucky American. His childhood came with few to zero good role models, but he has learned that “when life knocks you down, you can either stay down, or get back up and fight through the adversity it throws your way. 

“I chose the path of integrity, honesty, and doing the right thing,” he said. “This ethical path saved my life. Life is the ultimate teacher. It has taught me humility, empathy, and that there is no individual success without team success.”

Garrett claims there are things that enable professional success: production, great relationships and duty, and it is impossible to properly do your duty without living an ethical life.

“Success in life is so much more than money,” he said. “For me, I love doing the right thing because shortcuts, unethical behavior and taking advantage of others destroys teams, organizations and communities.”

The mentor program at the School of Business is an exciting opportunity that allows alumni to connect with current students. The goal of the mentor program is to give students the ability to learn from experienced professionals while preparing for life after college. Having been a mentor previously, when asked if he’d be willing to mentor a student again, Garrett quickly replied back, “It would be an honor to help a Hornet.

“For me, there was no better university in the United States than Emporia State. My Emporia State education enabled me to become an officer and have an absolutely incredible life.”

“The School of Business is proud of our alumni, especially one such as Lt. Col. Michael Garrett,” said Dr. Ed Bashaw, dean of the School of Business. “We thank him for his service to our country, and thank him for helping our Hornets.”

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