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The Mission Was Clear for OPERATION: TAKE COMMAND Winner Jean Cetoute

The hopes for a better future for his family pushed Jean Cetoute to enter OPERATION: TAKE COMMAND, 7-Eleven’s veterans franchise giveaway.

That certainly wasn’t an uncommon ambition among the contest’s 11,000 entrants. But the drive and determination behind Cetoute’s pursuit of a brand-new future for his family truly comes into focus when he starts talking about his past.

Cetoute of Richlands, North Carolina, grew up in Haiti without knowing either of his parents. He didn’t meet his father until he was 13 and he didn’t meet his mother until he was 25. It left him with a stronger sense of purpose and a desire to serve others.

So when Cetoute came to the United States, he joined the military. He served 20 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, including two deployments to Okinawa, Japan. He retired in 2014 as chief of utilities, overseeing a department that provided services for 30,000 people.

His compelling story connected with voters as he was selected as one of three finalists in a nationwide Facebook vote. Then, during an in-person interview at 7-Eleven’s headquarters, Cetoute convinced CEO Joe DePinto that he best possessed the experience, knowledge and motivation necessary to become a successful Franchisee. Cetoute hopes to franchise a store near his family in New York.

“Winning a 7-Eleven franchise is a tremendous opportunity for my family,” Cetoute said. “I get to have a second career and be a part of an internationally known brand. I spent 20 years in the military, and now, with 7-Eleven, I can become a contributing member of a civilian community.”

Cetoute credits the support of others for not only helping him win OPERATION: TAKE COMMAND, but also for getting him where he is today after a difficult childhood.

“It humbles you,” Cetoute said. “It creates a certain hunger to achieve greater things in life. It creates this internal force that pushes you every day to reach for new heights, to say to yourself, ‘Never again. And certainly not my family.’”

His passion to serve made him a front-runner in OPERATION: TAKE COMMAND. Now, Cetoute is prepared to keep on serving as a civilian. Thanks for inspiring so many with your story, Jean, and welcome to the 7-Eleven family!

If you’re a vet ready to enlist as a 7-Eleven Franchisee, visit the Veterans Franchise Program page for more information. Or attend a 7-Eleven seminar and get the full story. There’s one in your neighborhood!

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