STEPHENVILLE — It’s one of Tarleton State University’s core values. And one of Mary Jo MacGregor’s guiding principles.
The retired Marine Corps officer plans to begin a second career as she gets her master’s degree in social work from Tarleton State University in 4 p.m. graduation ceremonies Friday, where she will deliver the commencement address.
Service is in her DNA. She first sensed a need to help others in her elementary and high school education.
“That comes from my upbringing,” she said. “It comes from my family. It comes from the choices and sacrifices my family made to send me to Catholic schools.”
Now a Weatherford resident, Mary Jo grew up in Wisconsin, and received her commission in the Marine Corps through U.S. Navy ROTC training at Northwestern University. Retiring as a colonel, she served more than 25 years, including three combat deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, and a deployment with the United Nations in Western Sahara, Africa.
She moved to Texas with her husband, also a retired USMC officer, to be closer to his daughter. She decided to pursue a master’s in social work after volunteering for several years after her 2011 retirement.
She loved the volunteer work, much of it in child welfare. She also has worked as a court-appointed special advocate in Parker and Palo Pinto counties and was a reading mentor for her neighborhood elementary school.
“It was through my volunteer work with CASA I kept running into people from Tarleton,” she said. “I met people from different fields. I met educators, case workers in Child Protective Services or people who were volunteering or working at the CASA program. They were all doing very positive things with their degrees.”
During her studies, she realized her military tenure had opened the door for her subsequent social work career.
“I was a logistics officer in the Marine Corps, and my classmates kept pointing out things I had done as a Marine, especially in taking care of Marines and taking care of their families, that were very closely related to social work practice.”
As a student at Tarleton, Mary Jo participated in a social work study abroad opportunity in Costa Rica, was selected for Phi Alpha Honor Society for social work students as well as Alpha Chi National College Honor Society, and is this year’s outstanding graduate of the master social work program.