One of the Proud: Olivia Goncalves Enters the U.s. Marine Corps

Thursday, May 31, 2012
By Cary Shuman

Olivia Goncalves

Olivia Goncalves has faced adversity in her life but she has never let any obstacle get in the way of pursuing her goals.

Goncalves, a Class of 2011 Winthrop High graduate, has been helped greatly along the way by her mother, Sandra, a single parent who always gave her daughter every opportunity to excel in any endeavor.

That teamwork of mother and daughter has produced a momentous achievement: Olivia Goncalves is a new member of the United States Marine Corps.

“It’s been a long road and financially difficult as a single parent, but the end result has been most rewarding,” said Sandra.

An attractive 19-year-old woman, Goncalves brings a combination of grit and glamour to the table. She is an actress who can be seen on the big screen in the current lacrosse-themed movie, “Crooked Arrows,” in which she has a role as a cocktail waitress.

Goncalves said Winthrop High guidance counselor Kathleen D’Amico first mentioned the United States Marine Corps to her for consideration as a post-graduate opportunity.

“Every time a recruiter came to our school, she would arrange a meeting,” said Goncalves. “She really helped me a lot.”

Goncalves attended one semester at Bunker Hill Community College last fall before deciding to join the Marine Corps.

“I enlisted in February [2012] and reported to boot camp in Parris Island, South Carolina,” said Goncalves. “It was 13 weeks of the hardest thing I’ve ever done. We train for several hours day and night and every day is different. There are obstacle courses, rifle range training, swimming, and physical fitness. I was in shape when I started, but the sergeants really push you to the limits and you really get to be in the best shape of your life after boot camp.”

Goncalves also had the opportunity to demonstrate her boxing skills at boot camp, having learned the craft from her uncle, Frank Pepper.

During boot camp, the 5-foot-3-inch Goncalves trained exclusively with other female candidates. “They separate the men and women,” said Goncalves. “I was in a platoon of 80 females.”

Goncalves also learned the customs and courtesies of the Marine Corps, safety procedures and the history of the Corps.

On May 11 at a ceremony at Parris Island, Goncalves received her EGA [Eagle Globe and Anchor], which is the official emblem of the United States Marine Corps. The presentation made it official: Olivia Goncalves was a full-fledged United States Marine.

Her mother, Sandra, and her best friend, Jaclyn, attended the ceremony. “I knew my mother was going, but my best friend surprised me, which was nice,” said Goncalves.

Goncalves will report for one month of combat and weapons training in North Carolina before moving on to Camp Lejeune for her MOS [Military Occupational Specialty] for a few months. She said her MOS will be in Administration.

“Then they’ll assign me a duty station where I’ll live for the remainder of my four-year contract,” said Goncalves. “I’ll be assigned a job in the Marine Corps but I can be called into a military or humanitarian situation at any time.”

After she completes her time in the Corps, Goncalves said she would like to launch her own film production company and make documentaries.

Goncalves has five years of acting experience on her resume and has appeared in three television shows and several movies in various roles. She was a contestant in a Miss Massachusetts Teen Pageant and has done modeling. She intended to view “Crooked Arrows” this week.

“I’m a Native American cocktail waitress in the movie,” said Goncalves. “We filmed the scene in Topsfield. I love being in films. It’s my passion. But when I get out of the Marine Corps and get that incredible life experience, I want to study film editing and directing because in order to be a good actress, you need to know as much as possible about your profession.”

Through all her triumphs and challenges, Goncalves says her mother has been a strong adviser, a great friend and a role model.

“I don’t know what I’d do without her,” said Goncalves. “She’s so strong. She gave me strength.”

Sandra said her daughter has always worked hard and followed the right path.

“She was always a great girl, even before she enlisted,” said Sandra. “I’ve always supported her. She always had a lot of ambition and great energy. What I like about my daughter is that when she says she is going to do something, she goes after it. And I like that about her. As a young adult, she went for what she wanted and believed in and I supported her.”

Goncalves marched in the Memorial Day Parade in Winthrop with other Marines and military personnel.

“It was a great feeling seeing all the little kids on the route and the look of respect they had on their faces,” she said.

  • Reallysandra

    “Sandra, a single parent who always gave her daughter every opportunity to excel in any endeavor”……Really Sandra SINGLE PARENT??? I’m sure you did by yourself. Yeah right !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/shelly.n.finnegan Shelly Nun Chucks Finnegan

    I for one personally know Sandra and Olivia and even consider, Olivia like a niece.  I for one know that Sandra, (the mom) has worked very hard and I had spent times with them and seen what both Sandra and Olivia had gone through to get by.

    I am indeed honored to know both Olivia and Sandra and know that they both set good examples for women 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1450960762 Sandra Hickey

     Yes!!!!!!! REALLY, I did raise my daughter alone, just ask her yourself. Only the people who know us, like Shelly, can tell you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/shelly.n.finnegan Shelly Nun Chucks Finnegan

     kind of funny how people can say things and hide.

    I certainly can personally speak up for Sandra, cause I have seen her in action, working hard, going to school and helping her daughter…so in turn, I seen how hard Olivia has worked to come to where she is all grown up.

    Olivia avoided all the negative things, with the great influence of her mother and that is why Olivia is very, very, successful in everything she does!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1450960762 Sandra Hickey

    Yes!!!!!!! REALLY, I did raise my daughter alone, just ask her yourself.
    Only the people who know us, like Shelly, can tell you that.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1450960762 Sandra Hickey

    Olivia, mommy is so proud of you!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1450960762 Sandra Hickey

    Shelly, I couldn’t say it better myself.

  • LHigg93409

    On top of all of this, Olivia has a heart of gold.  She has connected with our organization and has volunteered with us.  Olivia is a very determined lady and her mom is incredible.  
    Linda Higgins
    Executive Director
    Ethel’s Tree of Life

  • Maria

    olivia is doing amazing things. i could not be more proud of my cousin. she is so beautiful, smart, funny, ambitious, caring, and goal oriented. she is always there to listen to people when they need to talk. i am so proud of her for what she is doing and who she became. i know that she will go far and do what makes her happy. and i know she is doing something amazing. she has accomplished so much at her age. i love her so much. i also love sandra, who as far as i know was the one to raise her. love you guys!

  • Lauri

    Awesome article. My daughter really enjoyed Olivia at boot and MCT. Wish they had gotten to go to MOS together.

  • Patty72555

     I personal know Sandra and Olivia and can say Sandra was a great mother, She did without to give her daughter everything she could. There were times in there life that were very challening to a single mother and sandra being a very proud person did it on her own. She has done an amazing job with olivia, Olivia is such a great kid now an adult Marine. She is beautiful, talented.honest and most of all has been raised to be respectful and has so much Humor she makes you laugh. I can tell you all the sad things in Sandra and Olivia life they overcame,they know what they are and They are Better people for it.  Sandra as a mother I can say you should always know that you are an example of a good parent. And I know you were both mother and father to olivia. And you can stand tall and strong because you did a great job with all the obsticles in your life. As a mother I Your Number 1. And your daughter looks up to you.

    That alone says it all.

  • Bwalkerphoto

    Olivia is a beautiful person both in appearance and spirit and she has a wonderful mother who supports her every endeavor and I am very happy to have met and worked with both of them. Olivia is bound to do great things because of the network she has built for herself. Her mom does so much for her and vice versa, it’s a mother daughter team that’s finally getting the rewards they worked so hard for.

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