Skip to main content

Zixu Yu was thrilled to join the Anteater family this year as a computer science major in the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences (ICS). Returning to school after four years in the Marine Corps required him to step outside his comfort zone, but he hopes to one day return to serving his country by working at a military research facility. He also wants others to understand the opportunities of service. “I want the younger generation to know that the military can be a place to express their talent.” Here, Yu shares about his service in the Marines and plans for Veterans Day.

Can you tell us a bit about your service?
As a first-generation immigrant, I felt like military service was the way to get accepted into society, so I enlisted in the Marine Corps right after high school back in 2015. I was assigned to 5th Battalion, 11th Marines at Camp Pendleton as a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) Crewman. I did one deployment to Okinawa, Japan, before getting promoted to corporal. As a non-commissioned officer (NCO), I was then responsible for training and guiding new Marines who joined the fleet.

Zixu Yu in Japan, on the communication HMMWV (High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle).

What brought you to UCI?
I came to UCI because we have one of the best computer science programs in the country. After four years of service, I was already a sergeant of the Marine Corps. Instead of staying in the Marine Corps and having a stable career, I chose to move out of my comfort zone and pursue a bachelor’s degree. I immediately started my journey at Palomar College, completing all lower-division courses for the computer science major. It was hard to maintain a high GPA with a newborn baby, but I’m glad that UCI recognized my hard work and accepted me as part of the Anteater family.

What are your future plans?
I really miss the feeling of working with active-duty members because the bonding is like brotherhood. After I graduate, I hope to get a job at a Naval or Air Force research facility, so I can use the knowledge I learned from UCI to then serve my country in a different way. If that doesn’t work out, I will look for a job as a software engineer in industry to provide for my family.

A field exercise at Combined Arms Training Center, Camp Fuji.

How do you usually spend your Veterans Day?
Veterans Day usually is also the Marine Corps birthday, so I often gather with some brothers from the Marine Corps to talk about all the good old memories back in service. But everyone is all over the country this year, so I will probably spend time with my family or maybe work on my project for ICS 46 [Data Structure Implementation and Analysis]. However, I really feel thankful to all the men and women who served in the military to defend our country. Some give all, all give some. I would encourage everyone to remember what this holiday is representing.

UCI’s Veteran Services Center (VSC), which assists military-connected students in navigating student life at UCI, will be holding a Veterans Day ceremony at the UCI flagpole at 9 a.m. on Nov. 10, 2022.

— Shani Murray