Header image for From Marching Chief to Marine Officer– Meet COMM Alum Mitch Bishop

From Marching Chief to Marine Officer– Meet COMM Alum Mitch Bishop

Major Mitchell Bishop, U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, has earned numerous titles in civilian and military occupation since graduating with a Bachelor’s in Communication in 2004. After attending law school, the Naval Justice School and completing the Expeditionary Warfare School (DEP), Bishop has successfully attained the necessary skills to be a leader and a lawyer.

While at Florida State, Bishop was a part of the nationally renowned Marching Chiefs “Big 8” drumline and was one of six freshmen to make the line.

“Having the gumption to audition for Marching Chiefs and enduring the audition was the start of so many great opportunities in my life. I even met my wife because of Marching Chiefs,” Bishop says.

Apart from balancing numerous responsibilities as a Marching Chief and a marching instructor for Chiefs, Mitch worked hard to earn a spot in the College of Communication (now known as the College of Communication and Information). Although he wasn’t accepted into his first major of choice, Public Relations, Bishop felt more fulfilled in his second major of choice, Communication Studies, and enjoyed the speech and rhetoric curriculum. He also double majored in Classical Civilizations and took two semesters of Latin.

“I guess it was fate that one of my first classes in the major was Professor Davis Houck’s Classical Rhetoric. Reading Plato, Aristotle, and Sophocles fit right in. And that was no easy class! I hold that “B-” in higher esteem than any “A” I have ever earned!” Mitch admits.

During this academic awakening, Bishop decided that he wanted to go to law school and join the military. He is thankful for Professor Mark Ziegler’s Rhetoric of Didactic Literature class where he learned how to study both conventional and emerging topics in law and confront controversial issues as a professional and leader.

Mitch was exposed to military presence while on campus through Officers Selection Officers. It wasn’t until his sophomore and junior year that he began to take interest in the discussions about earning a commission and the challenge of military leadership.

“We have a long history of military service in my family. In particular, during World War II, my grandfather and all four of his brothers were serving overseas in either the European or Pacific Theater all at the same time and my dad served in Vietnam,” he says.

After considering all branches, Bishop was drawn to the Marines and wanted to be a Judge Advocate. He attended Florida Coastal School of Law for his Juris Doctor from 2004-2007 and took temporary time off to physically and mentally train for the Marines at Officer Candidates School (OCS). The 10-week OCS cleared out 35% of the starting candidates from the rigorous tests of academics, physical fitness and leadership. Mitch graduated from OCS in August 2004 and accepted his commission as a Second Lieutenant.

“After completing law school and passing the bar, it was time for active duty. The next step was The Basic School (TBS); a six-month long marathon combat-arms training program designed to prepare young officers for leadership in the Marine Corps with an emphasis on being rifle platoon leaders,” he said.

Upon completing TBS, Bishop went to Naval Justice School for training in military law and began as a Legal Assistance Officer at Marine Corps Base Quantico. As a Legal Assistance Officer, Mitch helped fellow Marines with their personal legal issues—conflicts with landlords or realtors, consumer issues, separation and divorce—and brought about positive solutions. After successfully handling those cases, his next assignment was being a prosecutor.

“While it was rewarding to enforce the high standards of the service, it was also troubling to watch how some Marines made a few bad decisions that ruined their military careers and for some of them, their lives,” Bishop explains.

A couple years later, Bishop volunteered to deploy in Afghanistan in January 2011. He was ordered to the United States Forces-Afghanistan in Kabul with the Staff Judge Advocate to the Commander of the International Security Assistance Force. He handled the day-to-day leadership of the enlisted service-members in his section, served as an assistant legal advisor to the Commander, and worked with allied members from Britain and New Zealand.

Bishop left active duty in 2012 and transitioned to the reserves. He was hired as an Assistant Attorney General in the Criminal Division of the Office of the Florida Attorney General practicing appellate law. Years later, Mitch transferred to the State Attorney’s Office in St. Augustine, Florida in the felony trial division, where he currently handles burglary, aggravated battery, fraud and grand theft cases.

“I have always been a firm believer that no matter what education and experience one pursues after college, the foundation built as an undergraduate has the most profound impact on the individual. After FSU I’ve had a lot of great opportunities professionally, but I always think back and appreciate the foundation built in the College of Communications,” Bishop says.