“I joined a very specialized unit as a member of ‘The President’s Own,’ and we are very focused on maintaining our mission to provide the best musical product we can possibly create.”
For Michelle Rakers, joining the Marine Corps after receiving her master’s degree in music performance from Northwestern University in Illinois was actually the logical next step for her.
Michelle was inspired to join by several music instructors who had told her about the premier bands in the Military they had been in.
“The Marine Band’s mission is to provide music for the President of the United States and the commandant of the Marine Corps.”
After learning about the “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band and its reputation as a superb performing ensemble, Michelle decided she wanted to join the Marine Corps and audition for this noted group.
Upon completing the audition process, Michelle joined the Marine Corps and the band as a trumpeter/cornetist. In addition to joining one of the more elite and high-profile orchestras in the country, Michelle was also impressed with the salary she would receive – which she felt was competitive with what she would have received in the civilian world.
“I think for young people looking to broaden their experiences and training, they will find any and every opportunity to do just that in the Military.”
With the Marine Band, 1st Lt. Rakers has performed at the White House, in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area and across the country during the band’s annual concert tour. She has served as a conductor and coordinator for the fall and winter Chamber Music Series and was appointed assistant director and commissioned a first lieutenant in July 2004.
She is both the first female assistant director and first female commissioned officer in the history of “The President’s Own.”
“Like most anyone placed in a position of authority, you realize how much you have yet to learn and you push yourself to be better.”
Michelle came to the Military with very specific goals. Fortunately, she has realized most of them. However, Michelle has learned in the Military – and in life – that she cannot rest on what she has achieved.
With that said, Michelle next plans on using tuition assistance to pursue a doctoral degree in conducting. This degree is just another way for Michelle to stay focused on her goal and her band’s: to create the best music possible.
Michelle’s Military Career Timeline
- 1998: Auditioned and won trumpet/cornet position for the Marine Band
- May 1998: Reported for duty with the Marine Band
- 2000: Served as a conductor and coordinator for several pieces during the fall and winter Chamber Music Series
- June 2004: Conducted first band concert
- January 2005: Received the University of Evansville’s (Indiana) Distinguished Alumni Award
- February 2005: Granted an honorary induction into Tau Beta Sigma, a National Honorary Band Sorority