Isaac Ball ’22 commissioned into U.S. Marine Corps
The Fourth of July is Isaac Ball’s second favorite holiday. Christmas is his first. His sense of patriotism is strong and perhaps equal to his love of learning and “a good challenge.”
Ball, one of 251 members of the Hanover College Class of 2022, received a Bachelor of Science in engineering at the 189th Commencement ceremony. The Madison, Ind., native distinguished himself early on from his peers when he began his college career at age 16.
Four years later and equipped with a Hanover degree, Ball has commissioned into the U.S. Marine Corps as a second lieutenant. His choice would have been to enlist directly after high school, but that would have required parental consent.
“I wasn’t going to get that at 16-years old,” Ball said. “So, instead of waiting, I decided to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering. I really enjoyed math, science and physics all throughout high school. Last year, I was able to figure out where engineering and the military would meet, and that is combat engineering in the Marine Corps.”
Ball has yet to learn of his military occupational specialty, which he will find out after completing additional training in Quantico, Va., later this year, but Hanover faculty and staff members say the young Marine’s devotion in the classroom bodes well for his career performance.
Love of Learning
Ball didn’t take his education lightly. He graduated Summa Cum Laude, the highest academic honor, from Hanover. His academic performance has gained him both high marks and high praise from faculty.
“Isaac has been an amazing student,” said Jeff Phillips, director of the engineering program and assistant professor of engineering. “Several times I have found his homework submissions to be even more accurate than my answer sheets. He is highly disciplined and strives for complete understanding of a topic.”
Engineering students complete a heavy, but manageable, course load. This didn’t faze Ball who touts that he “enjoys a good challenge.”
“Anyone who cares about our nation should be grateful that a young person of Isaac’s talent and high moral character is willing to serve in the Marine Corps,” Phillips added.
During Hanover’s 85th Honors Convocation in April, Ball received two awards, the Distinguished Award in Engineering and the Fleming Physics Award. Leonidas Pantelidis, associate professor of physics, who is known for giving difficult exams, said Ball is the first student to ever receive a 100 percent on two exams in the same course.
Ball said he considered attending another college for engineering but selected Hanover because he would be able to form close relationships with faculty members.
“One of the things I really like about the engineering leadership and curriculum here is that the faculty will do anything in their power to make sure you understand the material,” Ball shared. “And they’ll work with you outside of class to ensure that you are headed in the right direction with your life.”
Courtesy of faculty support, Ball worked as a design engineer intern at SuperATV, based in Madison, during the summer of 2020.
Leading inside and outside of the classroom
His curiosity for building and solving problems led him to share his talents across campus. As a tutor for introduction to mechanics and physics in the Gladish Learning Center, Ball worked with his peers one-on-one on assignments. As president of the Engineering Club, he hosted dynamic activities including a build-your-electric-motor day.
Off-campus, Ball’s a 10-year 4-H member and seven-year member of Boy Scouts. He earned his Eagle Scout ranking in 2020, and now serves as an adult leader.
His experience camping in the rain as a member of Boy Scouts of America Troop 717 is an activity that sounds comparable to life in the Marines. He cites this program as being a pivotal part of his preparation for the Marines, in addition to his academic enrichment at Hanover.
“Being in Scouts was a very, very transformative part of my life. You build friendships that can only be built through difficult circumstances, I guess you would say. You’re all out in a tent, and it’s muddy and it’s raining, but you still have to cook dinner, right? So, you figure out quickly who you can depend on and it’s similar in the military. Other than just basic outdoor survival skills, you learn a lot about teamwork and camaraderie and the importance of embracing not-ideal circumstances with others.”
The lessons he gained in leadership, character development and mental toughness were all valuable for Officer Candidates School (OCS), which is training for individuals who will enter the Marines as officers.
Ball, who completed OCS during the summer of 2021 in Quantico, Va., stated, “The Marine Corps basic training is one of the most challenging environments you can put yourself in, as a civilian. The goal of OCS is to test whether this person can lead efficiently. I came out of OCS wanting to lead Marines.”
Upon completion, a commissioning ceremony is held to mark the transition from civilian status to officer.
Commissioned to Lead
On June 2, the day of his 20th birthday, “Semper Fi” and the Marine Corps emblem decorate his cake, but it’s not for a birthday party, the cake is in celebration of Ball’s commissioning ceremony.
A room full of family, friends, members of Troop 717, Hanover faculty and students, all watched as Ball raised his right hand and repeated the oath of office to retired U.S. Navy Capt. Mike Turner, at the Fairfield Inn in Madison.
Leonidas Pantelidis, associate professor of physics, and Ball’s mother, Anita, pinned the second lieutenant bars on his uniform.
Ball stood across from his brother, U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Caleb Ball ’16, for his first salute as a commissioned officer, often referred to as the “Silver Dollar Salute.” The pair’s family watched from their front row seats, their eyes and hearts aglow with pride.
Ball follows his brothers as the third member of his family to graduate from Hanover. Nathanael ‘21 graduated with an engineering degree and works at Cummins Inc. Caleb graduated with a degree in international studies and has served for five years in the U.S. Navy.
Out of the seven siblings, the competition has always been the strongest between Caleb and Isaac. Despite Caleb being older, he said, “It’s never been a one-sided fight.” Underlying the competitiveness between the two is mutual respect and admiration. Caleb said he’s proud of his younger brother.
“I am confident that he’s going to do very well,” Caleb shared. “He’s a go-getter, and I know that wherever he finds his people, he’s going to be a good leader and look out for their best interest.”
Protecting and Serving
“One of the reasons why I wanted to join the military is that we have so many freedoms here and I want to try to, you know, do my part and try to give back to such an amazing country that we live in,” Ball shared, during a conversation in the lobby of Science Hall.
As he sits in the common space, nodding to his friends and fellow classmates as he chats, it’s obvious he’s developed strong relationships at the College. But his relationships will soon evolve starting this fall. Hanover and his family may be hundreds of miles away as he begins his time in the Marines, but both are as fundamental to him as the freedom he serves to protect.