Making each moment count after surviving Afghanistan
When Michael Falkenstein was a Marine in Afghanistan, he was ejected from the turret of a Humvee. Falkenstein says he wasn’t seriously hurt, and the only reminder of what could have been a life-changer is a scar that remains on his head.
“I do feel that my father was my guardian angel, and protected me for the entirety of my tour,” said Falkenstein.
“When I was 5, my father was taken from my family due to cancer. Coming back from Afghanistan alive and in one piece is something that I will be eternally grateful for to the fellow Marines in my squad and platoon.”
Falkenstein says that he feels that life is precious and shouldn’t be wasted.
“When I left the Marines, I made sure to live my life in a manner that would make my father proud,” said Falkenstein.
After four years in the Marines, Falkenstein, 23, is making good on his quest to make each moment count.
“When I completed my time, I dove right into Orange Coast College,” said Falkenstein. The go-getter took two years worth of units in 16 months. “I have such an affinity for learning,” said Falkenstein.
“This past semester I ended up taking 26 units between the three Orange Coast College schools, and I just got my first B,” said Falkenstein, who maintained close to a 4.0 grade point average “During my time I have been focused on studying mathematics and a diverse collection of honors courses.”
“In the Marines, I was an infantry assaultman,” said Falkenstein. “This specialty caught my eye because it was the only one that required a math test.”
Falkenstein says he was an honor graduate from the school of infantry. He’s had very little free time, and minimal sleep, since. “But I was already used to those kinds of work weeks after seven months in Afghanistan. All I knew was that I had a goal, and I did whatever it took to reach it.”
When Falkenstein was in high school, he danced, ran track, and was on the wrestling team and the varsity tennis team. He has a black belt in kenpo karate.
“I still take karate once a week,” said Falkenstein.
Yoga and gymnastics make up the rest of Falkenstein’s weekly workouts.
“Gymnastics is probably one of the hardest physical things I’ve done, and that is what pushes me,” said Falkenstein. Running is also a passion. “I just ran the Surf City Marathon, and the OC Half Marathon.”
He plans on running the Long Beach Half Marathon in the fall to get the Beach Cities Medal for running in all three races.
Next up for Falkenstein is continuing his studies in the fall at Columbia University. He’ll be majoring in mathematics and statistics, with a focus in finance.
“In the future, I hope to get an M.S. in financial engineering and work for a financial firm or a Fortune 500 company,” said Falkenstein.
“I wasn’t always an overachiever. In high school, my grades weren’t very good, and I didn’t even bother to take the SAT test my senior year. I decided one month before high school graduation to enlist, and it ended up being the best decision I have ever made.”
Falkenstein says he loves ribs, mac and cheese with hot dogs, and girls who wear glasses.
“It’s a good thing my girlfriend has terrible eyesight,” said Falkenstein. “I have a quirky personality.”
Gratitude for life is what motivates Falkenstein.
“There has been more than one tragedy in my life to date, and I believe in order to be truly grateful, I need to become the best me that I can become.”
Look out, Big Apple.
Eva Kilgore is the Wave’s business and people columnist. Contact her at email@example.com.
Article source: http://www.ocregister.com/news/falkenstein-358372-life-one.html
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