In February, the Navy Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps In-Service Procurement Program (IPP) Selection Board met to consider 18 highly qualified applicants for Fiscal Year 2021.
Established in 2013, IPP competitively selects fleet Sailors for a funded law degree and a JAG Corps commissioning path similar to what the longstanding Law Education Program (LEP) provides for line officers.
The board uses a whole-person concept to identify applicants with the greatest potential for successful service as a Navy judge advocate. 2021 marks the first year since the program’s inception that three Sailors were named IPP selectees. Traditionally, only one Sailor is selected.
In April, the three IPP selectees were publicly announced:
- ETV1(SS) Quentel Penn
- EOD2(EWS) Anthony Gore
- IS1(IW) Marisol Besson
For Penn, a deployment in 2018 sparked the idea to pursue a legal career in the Navy via IPP.
“After that deployment, it was all very intentional to get this point. From applying to law schools in the D.C. area, to my current assignment, I knew that it was what I wanted to do,” said Penn.
Penn enlisted in the Navy in 2014. He served as a Navigation Electronics Technician aboard the USS California (SSN 781), becoming the Leading Petty Officer in 2019. He currently is a first-year student at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law. Penn earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Excelsior College, graduating summa cum laude.
Penn also credits the many mentors that helped him along the way.
“Lt. Cmdr. Ronisha Beasley, Lt. Kevin Edwards, Navy Counselor (Career) Britt Jones, Lt. Cmdr. Jessica Powell and Lt. Cmdr. LaVeda McDaniel were exceptional mentors during my process,” said Penn. “Mentorship is incredibly important, and I know I wouldn’t be here without their support.”
His community service activities include volunteering with Africatown Community Cleanup in Mobile, Ala., assisting with cemetery cleanup efforts for fallen heroes in Portsmouth, N.H., and mentoring underprivileged youth in surrounding communities while stationed in Groton, Conn. He currently is assigned to Navy Recruiting District Richmond, Va.
For Gore, the journey toward IPP began a Google search about Navy law programs, which linked him to the JAG community program.
“I was looking for a program where I could go to law school and still keep my E-5 pay and benefits, and the IPP program helped me do that,” said Gore.
Gore enlisted in the Navy in 2016. After completing extensive training, he served as a senior explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) technician. He deployed multiple times with EOD Mobile Unit Three, acting as the primary diver on more than 40 force protection dives, and also leading joint training for U.S. and partner forces on the recovery of improvised explosive devices. Gore is a member of the EOD Mobile Unit Three Junior Enlisted Association and also is qualified as a scuba diving instructor.
Gore recalls the phone call he received when he was selected for the program.
“I was on the last night of my deployment and headed to the airport when I got the news,” said Gore. “It was really exciting and a whirlwind of emotion, coming home and about to embark on a new chapter in my career.”
Gore also credited his command for supporting him.
“Still being active duty, still being an EOD technician and knowing I had the full support of my command, and the support of my shipmates meant the world to me. It made a real difference in my confidence throughout the application process,” said Gore.
In addition to volunteering with inner-city youth mentoring programs, he earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice from Temple University in 2014.
Finally, for Besson, persistence paid off.
“Since it was my fourth time applying, I was very surprised when I was notified of my selection. As an attorney, the Navy's JAG Corps is my dream job and I feel blessed for this opportunity,” said Besson. “I'm excited to practice law in a myriad of areas while traveling the world and being part of the military community. I always knew that I wanted to focus my career on service and not on profit, which fueled my determination to continue applying.”
Besson enlisted in the Navy in 2014 and began her career at the Defense Intelligence Agency as an Intelligence Analyst. In 2019, she was selected as the Submarine Force Atlantic Sailor of the Year. Besson earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from the University of Puerto Rico and her Juris Doctor degree from the University of Puerto Rico School of Law. Her community service activities include serving as a legal interpreter for The Community Law Project at California Western School of Law and as a counselor for the Crisis Text Line. She is fluent in Spanish and an avid long-distance runner.
For more details about IPP, eligibility criteria, and application procedures, please visit www.jag.navy.mil.