Phillip Staten was surprised to see his office phone ring and the caller ID read “Randy Esters.” Staten thought, “Why is he calling me? The Chancellor is like the principal on steroids!” The Chancellor heard Staten speak at the Veteran’s Day program and asked if he’d be willing to share his story as the graduation speaker. Staten was delighted to oblige as speaking to crowds is not intimidating to him. He’s been a recruiter for many years and has long honed that skill. The magnitude of the honor of being asked to speak at LDCC’s graduation ceremony was not lost on Staten. He viewed it as a tremendous privilege.
Staten was born and raised in Monroe, LA, and comes from a long line of servicemen and women. He has an older brother. Though Staten never really knew his father, his grandfather was an important and present influence in his life. “He was my father figure,” shares Staten. His mother, a Northeast Louisiana University graduate, served in the Airforce during the Vietnam era. Staten’s mother was the oldest of six brothers and five sisters, and all her brothers served. Staten’s grandfather also served. He chose to enlist in the Navy. Two of Staten’s uncles retired from the Army. Staten and his brother chose to enlist in the Marine Corps. “I really followed him. He was the oldest, so I was going to go where he went,” says Staten. Several of Staten’s cousins also enlisted.
Growing up, Staten recalls his mom giving him and his brother two options: go to school or go to the military. Going straight to work was not an option. Although, her preference for Staten was school, not the military. She was so committed to the idea of college for Staten that when he needed her signature to enlist, she refused to give it. After Staten turned eighteen and could sign the form himself, he chose to wait until his mother blessed his decision. He promised he would do four years and then go to school. She then blessed it.
After boot camp, Staten was first stationed in Hawaii. After being promoted three times in a single year, Staten thought there may be something to this Marines’ life for him beyond the four years. He shared his inclination to continue his service with his mom. Says Staten, “She told me to hang in there until it wasn’t fun anymore.” Staten went on to serve for a total of 24.5 years. He eventually fulfilled his commitment to pursue his education. Prior to his retirement, Staten had accumulated over 90 credit hours. Unfortunately, his mother passed away from cancer three months after his retirement, so she didn’t get a chance to witness his graduation.
Staten married and two daughters were born from that union. Staten was also a father figure to his wife’s daughter, as well. While his three daughters continue to grow and thrive, the union did not. He later married a hometown girl who was a fellow high school classmate. They even grew up on the same block and Staten played sports with her brother. They reconnected through Facebook eighteen years post-high school graduation and a new journey was forged. Soon after, a son was born.
To learn more about Phillip Staten’s journey, join us at the LDCC 2022 spring graduation ceremony, on May 16, 2022, at 6 p.m. at the Fant Ewing Coliseum.