Photo Information

Private Daylien Diaz conducts the Obstacle Course during the Crucible on Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, S.C., Nov. 7th, 2023. Pvt. Diaz graduated from recruit training Nov. 21 and will return to her profession as a police officer with the Miami-Dade Schools Police Department while serving in the Marine Corps Reserves. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Ava Alegria)

Photo by Lance Cpl. Ava Alegria

Community and Country

22 Feb 2024 | Lance Cpl. Ava Alegria Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island

In 2018, Daylien Diaz was in high school in Miami when the Parkland High School shooting occurred.

For many students in Florida, the mass shooting sparked fear. For Diaz, it ignited a fire.

Diaz said she remembered watching video from that day, including one that showed a resource officer retreating during the shooting.

“It made my blood boil,” said Diaz. “That’s when I knew that my purpose was to step up.”

Having witnessed the consequences from that day, Diaz made a commitment to herself to answer the call to serve.

After graduating high school, Diaz entered the police academy.

Following her graduation from the academy, Diaz served as a security officer at multiple schools. Students with interest in law enforcement or the military frequently approached her to ask questions, and during conversations about the military, she began to develop her own interest in military service.

“It sparked something in me,” she said. “I felt like I was missing something as a police officer.”

As a dedicated and driven person, Diaz was instantly drawn to the Marine Corps noticing significant similarities between Marines and police officers. 

“A warfighter and a first responder have so much in common,” said Diaz. “Both require strength of mind and loyalty to a code of honor.”

Diaz enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve and departed for recruit training in September.

Diaz said going from a classroom full of children to a squad bay full of female recruits was a drastic change. She admitted the police academy set her on a path for success at recruit training, however, it didn’t fully prepare her for the challenges she endured at Parris Island. 

“In the beginning everyone was at odds,” said Diaz. “But towards the end, we finally realized how powerful we were when we worked together.”

Diaz said her prior training with casualty care and disaster response equipped her to adapt to the challenges of recruit training. 

“I was able to help my sisters when they were struggling and direct their focus to the mission at hand,” she said. 

Towards the end of training, Diaz’ platoon selected her for the Molly Marine Award—

the award given to a female Marine who best embodies the qualities and values of the Marine Corps.

“I’m incredibly honored that they chose me,” said Diaz. “They were my shoulder to cry on and I was the same for them; we encouraged each other.”

Pvt. Diaz graduated from recruit training with Lima Company on November 21, 2023. She said she is excited to resume her career with a new sense of fulfillment and purpose.

“I feel like I’ll be a better police officer,” said Diaz. “I’ve learned more about professionalism and bearing and grown as a person during my time here.”

After additional combat training and training to be in artillery fire support, Pvt. Diaz will return to the Miami-Dade Police Department and continue her service in Miami schools.

“My kids are waiting for me,” Diaz said with a smile.

Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island