Tuesday, March 31, 2015

USNA Honors Distinguished Graduates

The U.S. Naval Academy and U.S. Naval Academy Alumni Association awarded the 2015 Naval Academy Alumni Association Distinguished Graduate Award to four alumni for lifelong achievement and service to the nation in a ceremony before the Brigade of Midshipmen, March 27, in the Alumni Hall.

The recipients are retired Adm. Henry H. Mauz Jr., class of 1959; retired Adm. Richard W. Mies, class of 1967; retired Adm. James O. Ellis Jr., class of 1969; and Mr. David M. Robinson, class of 1987.

The Distinguished Graduate Award, established in 1999, honors Naval Academy alumni who have provided a lifetime of service to the nation or armed forces, have made significant distinguished contributions to the nation via their public service, and have demonstrated a strong interest in supporting the Navy or Marine Corps and the U.S. Naval Academy.

"Selecting today’s honorees from a field of accomplished alumni was both challenging and humbling; challenging because there are so many truly amazing graduates who deserve recognition, and humbling to have the opportunity to rub shoulders with these and so many other distinguished graduates of the U.S. Naval Academy," said retired Marine Corps General Peter Pace of the Class of 1967, chairman of the Distinguished Graduate Award Committee. "This great institution continues to serve as the foundation of patriotism, comradery and character that has sustained these leaders, and put them on their path to success."

Mauz has embodied the ideals of duty, honor and country starting his Navy career in destroyers and commanding river patrol boats in Vietnam. He has served as commanding officer of a cruiser, Chief of Staff for Commander, Carrier Strike Group One, and was assigned as Chief of the Operations and Readiness Branch at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe. He was also the Battle Force Commander during the strikes against Libya in 1986, then Deputy Chief of Staff and Acting Chief of Staff to the Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet.

"I am humbled, honored, and a bit surprised to be here," Mauz said. "I would like to express my great appreciation to the class of ‘59 and the Monterey chapter of the Alumni Association for nominating me for this award and I stand on giants in our Navy and our history. To the Brigade, please remember that you are embarking on a heroic profession and you have the opportunity to do great things and contribute vitally to our country."

Mies had a distinguished career in the submarine service, including tours in both attack and missile submarines. He has served as commander of Submarine Development Squadron Twelve, Chief of Staff, Pacific Submarine Force, commander of Submarine Group Eight, commander of Allied Submarines, Mediterranean, and Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Strategic Command.

During his time at the Academy, Mies earned awards in wrestling and Sprint Football, served as Deputy Brigade Commander and graduated first in his class. He has continued his education, completing his post-graduate studies at Oxford University, the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and Harvard University, holding a master’s degree in government administration and international relations.

"I’m deeply honored and humbled to have been selected for this award," said Mies. "Throughout my life I have been extremely blessed, blessed with devoted parents, inspirational teachers, devoted coaches, and exceptionally talented leaders. It is highly important to cherish the men and women you lead, share with them the special trust and confidence that has been place with you.”

Ellis has exemplified “from knowledge, sea power” throughout his career, from his Navy test pilot days through time as Commander-in-Chief, Allied Forces, Southern Europe. His career included tours with VFA-131, LaSalle (AGF-3), USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) and Carrier Battle Group 5. He also served as Commander-in-Chief of U.S. Naval Forces, Europe and Allied Forced, Southern Europe and Commander, U.S. Strategic Command.

Ellis also served on the board of the World Association of Nuclear Operations and co-chaired the U.S. delegation to the U.N. Convention on Nuclear safety. He was a presidential appointee on the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board and the Military Advisory panel to the Iraq Study Group.

"All of us in the class of ‘69 walked good, if different paths," said Ellis. "The real honor comes from those with whom we began the journey and the many, many more that we met along the way. What you will share with all of us who have gone before, is the deepest admiration for those of whom you serve with.”

Robinson, the only player from Navy to play in the NBA, spent two years on active duty in the Civil Engineering Corps at King’s Bay Submarine Base as Assistant Resident Officer-in-Charge of Construction. He also spent six years in the Navy Reserve working in the Navy Public Works Department in Washington, and time as a spokesman for Navy recruiting and anti-drug campaigns.

After his Navy career, Robinson went on to play for the Spurs for 14 years and earned the nickname “The Admiral”. He became an NBA All-Star, an MVP, NBA Champion, and an Olympic gold medalist. During his time at the Academy, he led Navy basketball to 82 wins in three years and was the NBA’s No. 1 draft pick in 1987 but delayed his basketball career to serve his country.

"This is an incredible honor for me and I feel like the child on the dais next to these great men that represent a tremendous amount of experience and wisdom," said Robinson. "I have such an admiration for them and they have called me ‘The Admiral’ for so long but today the gig is up. My relationship with the Naval Academy and the Navy has been tremendous; my time here has prepared me in a tremendous way for everything that I have done in my life.”

After the ceremony, the award winners mingled with Midshipmen at a post-event reception. The future Navy and Marine Corps officers got the opportunity to personally talk with the 2015 Distinguished Graduates about their careers and experiences.

"These graduates have provided a lifetime of service to our nation and our Naval service," said Midshipman 1st Class Ward Scott, president of the Class of 2015. "They have demonstrated unwavering support for the Naval Academy and it’s an honor to meet them in person and learn from for all that they have accomplished.”

Thursday, March 26, 2015

USNA Midshipmen Honor Fallen Grad

By MC3 Nathan Wilkes

The U.S. Naval Academy (USNA) Brigade of Midshipmen held a remembrance meal in King Hall March 25 for a 2006 academy graduate who died earlier this month during a routine training exercise.

Marine Capt. Stanford “Ford” Henry Shaw III was one of seven Marines and four Louisiana National Guard members who died when their UH-60 Blackhawk Helicopter crashed near Eglin, Fla., March 10.

Before the meal, Midshipman 1st Class Seth Montgomery, Shaw's sponsor brother, stood before the brigade with Midshipman 1st Class Katrina Herrera, sponsor sister, and members of 6th Company and the Men’s Lacrosse team, to share a few of his personal experiences with Shaw.

“He was more than just some intimidating MARSOC Marine,” said Montgomery. “He was our mentor, our sponsor, and our friend. Even though he graduated nine years ago, he came home to visit our sponsor family two to three times a year to enjoy a good football game and tailgate with us.”

When he graduates and receives his commission in May, Montgomery plans to wear the same uniform Shaw wore during his commissioning in 2006.

“He gave it to me at Christmas and he was really proud that Katrina and I were selected to be Marine aviators,” said Montgomery. “We will strive to live up to the standard he set and we know he would challenge all of you to do the same. We know he’ll be watching.”

Shaw served as a Marine infantry officer and team commander for 2D Marine Special Operations Battalion.

During his time at the academy, he served as 6th Company commander, and was a member of the Ring and Crest Committee and the Men’s Lacrosse team.

Shaw’s name was added to the Naval Academy’s Memorial Hall wall, where the names of approximately 2,654 USNA alumni are honored and remembered.

He is survived by his parents, Stanford and Ramona Shaw of Basking Ridge, N.J. and his fiancée Marine Capt. Lindsay Pirek (USNA 2010).

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Former USNA Commandant Named Next President of Wesley College

The Wesley College Board of Trustees today announced that Robert E. Clark II is the College’s next president. Mr. Clark has 30 plus years of extensive leadership experience, most recently at the Pennsylvania State University.

Mr. Clark will begin work as the College’s 17th president on July 15, succeeding Dr. William N. Johnston who will retire in July after serving the institution for seven years, and following a distinguished career in higher education spanning 42 years.

A search committee co-chaired by Robert V.A. Harra, Jr. and William Strickland and comprised of trustees, alumni, faculty, an administrator and a student has been working with R.H.Perry & Associates Search Counsel to Higher Education to find President Johnston’s replacement.  Applications were received from 109 candidates; many of whom were interviewed for the position. Wesley’s Board of Trustees voted unanimously in favor of Mr. Clark.

“Mr. Clark’s innovative and collaborative leadership style is the perfect fit for Wesley College at this time in Wesley’s history,” said Board of Trustee Chair and Co-chair of the Search Committee Mr. Harra. “We welcome Bob and Ruth Ann Clark to Wesley and to Delaware.”

Mr. Clark, the former Commandant of Midshipmen at the United States Naval Academy, will have served 30 plus years of distinguished service in the military when he retires this summer from the United States Navy to assume the Wesley College Presidency. In addition to serving as the 84th Commandant of Midshipmen, he held several senior executive leadership positions including; Commanding Officer of the nuclear powered submarine USS Connecticut (SSN 22); Commodore of Submarine Squadron Four; and Joint Service Coordinator for the Pennsylvania State University.  While at Penn State, Mr. Clark served on the University’s Undergraduate Education Leadership Council, and has guest lectured on Leadership and Ethics at Penn State’s Leadership Academy (part of the Schreyer Honors College).

“I am very humbled and feel truly blessed to have been given the privilege of serving, and leading, the Wesley College family as their next President,” Mr. Clark said. “My wife, Ruth Ann, and I look forward to carrying on the legacy of selfless service and excellence that Bill and Susan Johnston have established at Wesley and in the surrounding communities.”

Located in Dover, Delaware, Wesley College is a United Methodist institution of higher education that seeks to be among the finest student-centered learning communities in the liberal arts tradition.

Congratulations to LT John Kadz!

LT John Kadz, of the USNA History Department, is the 2015 recipient of the Apgar Award for Excellence in Teaching.

This award, established in 1996, is intended to recognize and encourage relatively junior individual faculty members at the Naval Academy who have had a demonstrable impact on their students and/or who have made a significant contribution to the art of teaching and counseling students. The award is presented to a junior military faculty member in odd years and to a junior civilian faculty member in even years.

A product of the USNA Graduate Education plus Teaching (GET) program, LT Kadz is a role model for all junior military faculty assigned to the U.S. Naval Academy. In just three academic years, he has managed to complete his master’s thesis and earn his graduate degree; he has represented USNA as a military detailee at the White House; he has constructed teaching curricula that provide a positive academic environment; and he has been involved in many significant mentoring roles.

He has taught several courses in high demand, including American Naval History, History of Asia in the Premodern World, and History of America’s War on Drugs. He energizes students and colleagues with an infectious positive attitude and applies innovative teaching methods such as “Interactive Learning” to make course content relevant and applicable to the USNA mission.

LT Kadz’s contributions to the art of teaching and mentoring students is validated by consistently positive instructor evaluations and informal feedback that praise him for motivating and enabling all to learn, and for being a vibrant personal example of integrity and high moral character.

USNA Announces New Commandant of Midshipmen

Col. Stephen E. Liszewski was recently selected to be the 86th Commandant of Midshipmen at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.  He is an alumnus of the Naval Academy Class of 1990.

Similar to the Dean of Students at a civilian university, the Commandant is responsible for the day-to-day conduct, military training and professional development of more than 4,400 midshipmen. Liszewski will replace the current Commandant, Capt. Bill Byrne, who will depart later this summer after a successful two-year tour.

Liszewski is only the second Marine Corps officer to hold the position as U.S. Naval Academy Commandant. He currently serves as the Commandant of the Marine Corps Military Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York City.

“I am honored and excited to join the dedicated team at the Naval Academy,” said Liszewski. “This really is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I look forward to working with the incredibly talented men and women of the Brigade of Midshipmen and help them become leaders of character for the naval service and the nation.”

Liszewski was born in Annapolis, Md., while his father served as a librarian at the Naval Academy.  He was later raised in nearby Gaithersburg, Md.  He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy with a Bachelor of Science in history. After being commissioned in the Marine Corps, Liszewski attended The Basic School in Quantico, Va., and trained as a Marine artillery officer at Ft. Sill, Okla.

Liszewski’s first tour in the operating forces was with 1st Battalion, 12th Marines and the 3rd Marine Regiment in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. As a captain, he served with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit and later commanded Battery E, 2nd Battalion, 11th Marines at Camp Pendleton, Calf. from 1998 to 2000.

He went on to command 1st Battalion, 12th Marines from 2006 to 2008 and led the battalion to Al Anbar Province, Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom. In 2012, he deployed to Helmand Province, Afghanistan with I Marine Expeditionary Force in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.  From 2012 to 2014, he commanded the 11th Marine Regiment in the 1st Marine Division, Camp Pendleton, Calf.

His decorations include the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Navy Commendation Medal, and various unit and service awards.

He is an honor graduate of the Amphibious Warfare School and a distinguished graduate of The Australian Command and Staff College. He graduated with highest distinction from the U.S. Naval War College and has earned master’s degrees in management from the University of Canberra, Australia and in national security studies from the U.S. Naval War College.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Midshipman Candidate Takes Oath of Citizenship

Midshipman Candidate Diane Muhizi became a U.S. citizen March 19 during a naturalization ceremony at the U.S. Customs and Immigration Service office in Johnston, R.I.

Muhizi’s story of becoming a U.S. citizen has been a difficult journey, a journey that has taken her far from her former life.

“Everything, good or bad, I go through here in America I consider pure joy, because I have seen what poverty and rock bottom feels like,” said Muhizi. “I constantly force myself to never forget where I came from, because without that past I never would have known what happiness feels like. I am glad that I'm not there anymore, but I'm even gladder I was there.”

Born in Rwanda, Africa, Muhizi relocated to the United States on Oct. 21, 2009, along with her mother and two brothers. Before then, she spent the first 13 years of her life in a refugee camp in Mozambique.

Today, Muhizi is a high-achieving student at Naval Academy Preparatory School (NAPS), where she currently has a 4.00 GPA and was recently selected to be a platoon commander for the 2nd trimester of the academic year.

“Every year there are one to two midshipman candidates who arrive at NAPS needing to complete naturalization prior to reporting to the U.S. Naval Academy,” said retired Capt. Mark Donahue, NAPS command services director. “Each story is unique, but Midshipman Candidate Muhizi's story is particularly compelling. Growing up in a refugee camp from the time she was a baby, she has embraced her adversity, and it has made her a high achiever.”

The ceremony, which swore in 32 new U.S. citizens from 21 different countries, is one Muhizi won’t soon forget.

“It feels awesome to be a citizen because that means I can now attend the academy,” said Muhizi. “I feel a little more patriotic than I did before I was a citizen.”

Muhizi will attend the U.S. Naval Academy later this year as part of the class of 2019. She credits NAPS for preparing her for this goal.

“NAPS has helped me get more familiar with the military lifestyle, I was blessed with a leadership position as a platoon commander,” said Muhizi. “This position helped me become more confident in my leadership abilities and gave me a perspective on how hard peer leadership is.”

Advanced Physics Professor John Macaluso said Muhizi’s positive approach, dedication and motivation are what make her a top student at NAPS.

“Muhizi is one of the hardest working and most dedicated students in my class. She consistently gives full effort towards every topic, assignment, and discussion,” said Macaluso. “She works very well with others and causes those around her to live up to her level of motivation. She's inquisitive, smart and approaches everything with a positive attitude.”

“When Muhizi got her paperwork for her interview with the citizenship board, the entire platoon was happy for her,” said Chief Aviation Support Equipment Technician (AW) Kathryn Kennon, 1st Company senior enlisted leader. “She brings a smile to others just being in the room because she has a positive outlook on life.”

According to Donahue, Muhizi plans to study engineering while at the Naval Academy and possibly join the submarine community after graduation.

“She has all the hallmarks of someone who will make an exceptional officer: passion for the job, compassion for people, superb technical knowledge and stamina,” said Donahue. “She gets along very well with everyone. Her smile and kind demeanor improve morale whenever she is around.

“Being able to make people like Diane Muhizi U.S. citizens is what has made this country great and is what gives me such great confidence in the future of our nation.”

Muhizi credits her mother Basilissa, who survived the genocide in Rwanda, as her inspiration and driving force.

“When it comes to who inspires me, my mother Basilissa is always going to be on top of that list,” said Muhizi. “My mother is the kind of person that even after being hit by mountains of trouble, she'll still get back up and pick up where she left off. She's been through the worst of the worst, not mentioning experiencing the genocide itself. Yet she never lost hope. She's always looking for a way to make sure that her children are happy and safe. Her selflessness and caring for others is what I admire.”

Monday, March 23, 2015

USNA Midshipman Selected as Clinton Global Initiative Scholar

U.S. Naval Academy Midshipman 3rd Class Megan Rosenberger, 20, of Pittsburgh, was selected as a 2015 Clinton Global Initiative University Scholar for her “Barrels by the Bay” environmental service project, which kicked off yesterday at the Phillip Merrill Environmental Center in Annapolis, Md.

Rosenberger was one of 15 students selected for the Resolution Project Fellowship Award, which partners with the Clinton Foundation. Over 500 students from across the nation competed for one of the fellowship positions, which provides hands-on  mentorship, world-class global advisory resources, and $5,000 in funding for each awardee’s service project. The fellowship works to positively impact the world with a lifelong commitment to social responsibility.

Chelsea Clinton presented the fellowship award at the 2015 Clinton Global Initiative held March 7 at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The event brought together more than 1,000 innovative student leaders in five focus areas including education, environment and climate change, peace and human rights, poverty alleviation, and public health.

“Barrels by the Bay” aims to bring awareness to the United Nations 22nd Annual World Water Day, Sunday, March 22, while educating the public about water resources. Twenty-two donated Coca-Cola syrup barrels will be painted and transformed into rain barrels by volunteers and students from 11 Anne Arundel County schools. Each barrel’s design will correspond to one of the 22 themes of World Water Day and will be implemented at government buildings within the City of Annapolis, potentially collecting over 600,000 gallons of water a year.

 The water collected will be distributed across land by a watering hose attached to the barrel to water plants,  grass, trees and gardens.

“Barrels by the Bay” is working in partnership with the City of Annapolis, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and the Environmental Protection Agency.

For more information on Barrels by the Bay, please visit https://www.facebook.com/barrelsbythebay.

Friday, March 20, 2015

A Week in Arizona

A group of midshipmen from the Midshipman Action Group is in Tuscon, Arizona this for spring break, helping the Pascua Yaqui Tribe's Boys and Girls Club with a variety of projects. 

March 15: We spent the morning with our hosts hiking about 7 miles. After our hike we checked into the Boys and Girls Club and got settled. We headed to Gates Pass to view the sunset then headed back to the Holmes Tuttle BGC for the night. Everyone was super excited to meet the kids.

March 16: We woke up at 0630 to cook breakfast for everyone. We then headed off to the Pascua Yaqui Boys and Girls Club at 0900. For the first hour we helped organize the clubhouse and clean their refrigerator. The kids started to arrive and we naturally split up into smaller groups. One group helped organize the library and the others played pool with the kids. They were amazing! We spent a lot of time outside playing basketball and enjoying the warm weather. The club itself is quite small and there isn't any room to run around. At the end of the day we decided to play a massive Capture the Flag game that got everyone involved. It was pretty intense. We headed back to the Holmes Tuttle BGC for dinner and hanging out. 

March 17: We spent the morning exploring downtown Tucson and the University of Arizona. Afterwards, we went back to the Boys and Girls Club to continue to play with the kids. They love playing pool and being outside.

March 18: We started a garden for the Boys and Girls Club. There had been a garden about 2-3 years prior but everything had been dried up so we had to start over by digging out land, putting in soil and plants, adding a fence, and figuring out the irrigation system. In the afternoon we went to the park to play field games with the kids. We noticed they lacked some equipment so we stopped at Walmart to pick up some toys. Our group is bonding extremely well and having a great time. During the evening, the entire group went out to an authentic Mexican restaurant. 

March 19: We went back to the Boys and Girls Club to finish our garden. We played a 5-on-5 basketball game with the kids and lost. We were given a tour of their home and talked about their life, social issues, and their future. We advocated for the Naval Academy and suggested looking into enlistment as well. The Boys and Girls Club was very generous and treated us to lunch. 

Friday, March 13, 2015

Midshipman Presents State Proclamation

By MC3 Nathan Wilkes

Midshipman 1st Class Tiana Williams presented an official proclamation from the governor of Maryland, Larry Hogan, to commemorate March 10th as Harriet Tubman Remembrance Day in Maryland during the 15th annual Harriet Ross Tubman Day celebration in Annapolis, Mar. 10.

This is fifth year midshipman have presented the official proclamation on behalf of the governor.

“This is an important part of history and I am honored and excited to have the opportunity to speak on the governor’s behalf and help celebrate the life of Harriot Tubman,” said Williams. “We live in a historical town and I feel that it’s important to take advantage of all these opportunities that are at our doorstep.”

The event, hosted by Barbara Robinson, the Chair Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland, featured a number of prominent Maryland political leaders including Louis Fields, President of the African American Tourism Council, Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio, Governor’s Office Director of Intergovernmental Affairs, and representatives from voting districts in and around Annapolis.

“The Naval Academy has strong ties with our heritage communities throughout the State of Maryland, particularly in Annapolis,” said Miriam Stanicic, USNA Community Relations Director. “This is why, over the past several years,  the community's program organizers have taken great pride in having a midshipman read the governor's proclamation every March 10th to honor Harriet Tubman Day in Maryland.”

“We are so happy and pleased that our state, our leadership, our senators, our delegates, and our new governor, has embraced Harriot Tubman Day,” said Fields. “We hope to continue this tradition for many years to come and continue to celebrate our history.”

During the celebration, Dr. Ruth Pratt, a native of Baltimore, Md. was awarded the 2015 Harriet Ross Tubman Lifetime Achievement Award for endless passion and dedication to the community throughout her distinguished career as a Maryland educator.

“You are who you are today because your ancestors, grandparents, and parents did whatever it took to make your life better,” said Pratt. “Harriet Tubman dedicated her life to doing everything she could to make the lives of the people she saved better, and that makes her a figure in history worth remembering.”

Harriet Tubman, an African-American abolitionist, humanitarian, and Maryland native, played a critical role as a civil rights activist and Underground Railroad operator during the 19th and early 20th century. Over the course of her life, Tubman made an estimate of 19 trips along the eastern coast of the U.S. and into Canada, rescuing more than 300 people from slavery.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

USNA Hosts Japan Homeport Night

By MC2 Tyler Caswell

The United States Naval Academy (USNA) hosted “Homeport Night” for Midshipman becoming Surface Warfare Officers heading to Japan, at the Midshipman Action Center, Mar. 11.

Current Naval Officers speak with the graduating Midshipman of Class 2015 throughout a series of USNA sponsored “Homeport Night” opportunities to educate and further familiarize the Midshipman with their near-future duty stations. The officers give insight and help provide a path for success for countries that have a different lifestyle then these Midshipmen are used to.

“This night allows the Midshipman heading to Japan, an introduction to the culture,” said LT Matthew Harmon, 19th Company Officer. “They see some of the food they will be eating, hear about customs and can get a little more familiarized with where will essentially be their home for the next few years.”

The information provided to the Midshipman can help the transition of these soon-to-be junior officers. The guidance provided can help make the experience better during their first duty assignments as Ensigns, and help keep them focused on their studies at USNA and their job out in the fleet.

“Going from one country to another is a huge step, especially when you will be living there,” said Lt. Travis Snovert, 14th Company Officer. “We want to be able to give them some solid insider information. Whether it’s place to eat, things to get involved with or visit, we want to try to build up some the confidence and ease some of the uncertainty, so these newly commissioned officers can stay focused now, and on their careers."

While asking questions and exploring the culture of Japan, Midshipman are also able to network and develop better communication with classmates who will be dependable on their voyage.

“I get to see everyone that will be going with me,” said Midshipman 1st Class Carl TedBlanco. “We are all building comradery with each other and its great because there is that level of ‘I don’t know’ and it will be better, knowing that everyone here will be going through same thing. It helps take away the strangeness of being somewhere new.”

The 25 Midshipman in attendance were reminded that four years ago. It was US armed forces that responded to the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan.

“It was people like you, which helped Japan recover from that tragic event.” Said Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force, Cdr. Masato Murakoshi, Languages and Cultures Department at USNA. “Those US personnel rose to the occasion, and without question came to our need. You are now going to fill those shoes, a lot is expected of you.”

The four years of naval officer development at USNA is coming to an end for these Midshipmen, and they are excited to put what they have learned to the test.

“I’m really excited and kind of scared at the same time,” said Midshipman 1st Class Jonathan Makona. “I love to travel, I want to see other cultures and it’s all just starting. Spending four years here makes me want to go and be able to see the world and start my career. I want to get to Japan and do the best I can to my ability, for myself and everyone around me.”

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Midshipmen Encounter Southeast Asia

By MC2 Nathan Wilkes

Three U.S. Naval Academy (USNA) midshipmen shared their perspectives and recollections on living, studying, and traveling in one of the world's most diverse and fascinating regions, Southeast Asia, during a Bilden Asia Pacific Forum in Sampson Hall, Mar. 11.

Midshipman 1st Class Chris Adsit, Midshipman 2nd Class Sean O’Donnell, and Midshipman 2nd Class Anthony Malatesta, are part of USNA’s first group of midshipmen pursuing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) majors to study abroad at Singapore’s Nanyang Technical University and participate in a solar energy initiative in the Philippines.

“I learned a lot about understanding different cultures, especially from a development stand-point, and about the gaps in communication that exist between the people that lend aid and the people receiving it,” said Adsit. “Adapting to a new culture and learning new things while trying to overcome cultural barriers was very valuable, interesting, and definitely a great take away as I prepare to hit the Fleet.”

While at the university, the midshipmen continued their STEM education, taking engineering and math classes alongside their Singaporean peers. Outside of the classroom, they had the chance to explore and immerse themselves in the culture and diversity that Singapore has to offer.

During the presentation, Adsit, O’Donnell, and Malatesta shared their stories and photos from their time in the Philippines and Singapore.

“Being in Singapore, I saw the importance of maintaining strong foreign relationships and how strategic the Straits of Malacca are,” said O’Donnell. “I know all of us will have some interaction with that in the future so it was great to get an experience like that.”

The Naval Academy has a number of semester study abroad opportunities available to midshipmen interested in foreign language and culture, regardless of major. These enrichment programs work to develop the midshipmen into adaptable, effective, and proficient leaders who understand and appreciate global and cross-cultural dynamics. With the addition of the new STEM major programs, USNA midshipmen have the opportunity to travel to and study in more countries than ever before.

“It’s hard to understand how different societies have different priorities and ways of thinking without experiencing it firsthand,” said Malatesta. “We are so fortunate to attend an institution that gives us the opportunity to travel abroad, adapt to new cultures, and learn the lessons that the world has to offer.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Congratulations to Professor Charles C. Hanna!

Congratulations to Professor Charles C. Hanna, the 2015 recipient of the Civilian Faculty Service Excellence Award. Professor Hanna joined the USNA faculty in 1978. For well over three decades he has worked unstintingly for the benefit of midshipmen, his colleagues, and the Academy mission.

As a founding member of what is now the Faculty Senate Assessment Committee, he helped to create and implement a robust USNA assessment program. In continued service on assessment and curriculum committees, he continues to be an advocate for a deliberate and motivated curriculum.

His concern for midshipmen and faculty well-being has been manifested, for example, by extra instruction on road trips with the varsity Volleyball Team, mentoring junior faculty on teaching portfolios, and volunteering at the Writing Center. In service on the Academy Admissions Board, department Promotion & Tenure committee, Trident Scholar committee, as Senior Advisor for the Mathematics and Applied Mathematics majors, and in many other capacities, Professor Hanna has contributed to the smooth and effective performance of the Academy mission.

USNA Hosts Astronaut Graduates

By MC3 Nathan Wilkes

The United States Naval Academy (USNA) hosted its annual Astronaut Convocation Mar. 9th in Mitscher Auditorium.

The convocation was an opportunity for the Brigade of Midshipmen to learn about the future of space flight and exploration from leaders in the field as well as current and former astronauts.

“There is a future for all of you in technology, medicine, science, aerospace and teaching,” said Frank Culbertson, Jr., panelist and Naval Academy Class of 1971 graduate. “I encourage all of you to think about how you are going to make a difference and what you are going to say when you get up here 20 or 40 years from now.”

Five of the Naval Academy’s 52 astronaut graduates served as panel members and provided feedback to the full-capacity crowd. USNA Superintendent Vice Adm. Ted Carter spoke of the deep heritage the academy has with aerospace.

“This is something that doesn't really happen anywhere in the country. We have produced more NASA astronauts than any other institution. The very first American in space was a USNA graduate,” said Carter. “We bring phenomenal people back who have graduated from this institution and we have current access to faculty members who are astronauts. USNA has a great history involving aerospace.”

The foundations of the careers the astronauts have built started with their time at USNA. Robert Cabana, the director of NASA's John F. Kennedy Space Center and Naval Academy Class of 1971 graduate, explained the hardest lessons are the ones you learn from the most.

“I wasn't able to be a pilot when I first tried, but with time, I was able to do so and more,” said Cabana. “I learned an awful lot at USNA. I grew a lot here. I learned to keep trying. There are things that I didn't want to do and assignments that I later didn't want to take, but some of those ended up being the best experiences of my life. Everything is what you make of it.”

For the midshipmen in attendance, it was a unique opportunity to gather insight from those who have been in their shoes, and gone on to do great things with their lives.

“There’s no other chance you can have to sit down and have a conversation with five astronauts,” said Midshipman 3rd Class Will McMasters. “It’s really awesome to see what the fruits of your labor can become. These people left USNA and did amazing things, and it’s inspiring to see.”

“As an individual who has wanted to become an astronaut ever since he was a toddler, this convocation provided me advice on how to become a prospective NASA astronaut candidate,” said Midshipman 1st Class Vigneshwar Manickam. “The astronauts provided motivation to the many hopeful future astronauts in the crowd by tying their experiences in space directly to their four-year experience at USNA."

Monday, March 9, 2015

USNA STEM Hosts Girls Only Workshop

By MC3 Nathan Wilkes

The U.S. Naval Academy’s (USNA) Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) program hosted a “Girls Only STEM Workshop” for middle school-age girls Saturday, Mar. 7, in Rickover and Michaelson Hall.

More than 300 girls from around the region participated in the career forum facilitated by female role models from the Academy.

 “Today we are hosting middle school girls who are interested in STEM majors and exposing them to some of the math and science topics that they could possibly study in high school, college, and later in their careers,” said Midshipman 3rd Class Allison Latham. “This program is a great way to introduce young girls to different STEM subjects in fun ways and teach them that if they study hard and work hard, it will pay off.”

The day-long workshop included hands-on activities in robotics, bioterrorism, aerospace, biometrics, physics and more.

“We really want the students to have exposure to technical fields and STEM topics that they might not be covering in their normal classes,” said Angela Moran, USNA professor of mechanical engineering and STEM Outreach Director. “One of the main goals of the event today is to set these girls up with the tools that they will need to succeed in STEM topics in the future.”

Forty USNA midshipmen and 15 female faculty members helped facilitate the event. Their experience and knowledge helped the girls to learn the topics easily and identify role models in the STEM community.

“We are having a lot of fun and are learning a lot about how STEM can help you with a lot of things,” said Annabelle Sehefer,  a 6th grader from Virginia. “In one of my classes today I learned how to protect my house during a hurricane with the wave machine, which was really fun.

The culminating event of the workshop was an engineering mini-design challenge. Students formed groups to put their creativity to the test to design and develop their own amphibious and aviation vehicles. Once the vehicle is created, each group must use teamwork to overcome certain design obstacles.

“I think the design challenge is a fun way to put together everything that we learned today and it really opens your mind to some things that you can do when you’re older,” said Haley Cordova, a 6th grader from Virginia. “The best part about STEM is that they make the classes very interactive and fun. It makes it easier and more enjoyable to learn.”

“Sometimes a little bit of hard work and tough choices can make the difference in long-term fun and fulfillment with what these girls choose to do with their lives, said Moran. “It sounds pretty serious, but today is the first step for helping these girls to step up their futures and we do it in a creative and fun way.”

This event is sponsored by the Office of Naval Research, the Naval Academy Foundation, the Northrop Grumman Foundation and The Bauer Foundations.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Midshipmen Share Adventures From Semester in Turkey

The city of Istanbul, Turkey, brings to mind images of flowing Ottoman clothing, mosques and bazaars, or perhaps even a fez. As a bustling city of 19 million people however, Istanbul is in many respects similar to any other modern city. Since it is uniquely located on both the European and Asian continents, Istanbul is a dynamic place where there is a confluence of Eastern and Western culture. Midshipmen 2nd Class Molly Chandler, Joe Chilbert, Venus Molony, Megan Musilli, Bobby Nolan, Will Parker, and Charisse Villareal all had the opportunity to spend the semester studying at Koç (pronounced “coach”) University in Istanbul.

One of the aspects of the culture that the midshipmen quickly learned to appreciate is what they dubbed “Turkish time.” In Turkey, being punctual is not valued nearly as much as in America. Instead, people have a laid back attitude and are more concerned with spending quality time building relationships than sticking to a schedule.

The Turkish people proved to be very hospitable and welcoming to the midshipmen. The Turkish students in particular were always more than happy to speak and befriend the exchange students. Consequently, many close friendships developed. The Turkish students’ general philosophy of living in the moment created many interesting adventures, such as spontaneous Friday morning trips to the Grand Bazaar.

For three of the midshipmen, the end of the school day didn’t mean going back to the dorm to relax and do homework; it meant sitting on public transportation for an hour to go home to their host family. For Parker, the fresh, home-cooked meals that his host mother cooked each night made the commute well worth it. For Villareal, the best part was trying to communicate with her 10-year-old Turkish host sister who did not know any English. After a few weeks of broken, awkward interaction, she finally got her sister to laugh and have fun through learning how to play the ukulele and computer games. Getting to go home to a Turkish family each night not only provided delicious food and friendships that will last a lifetime, but also really helped with improving Turkish language skills and gave insight into the Turkish family dynamic.

This family dynamic was not always strictly Turkish, but definitely rewarding and showed Istanbul’s mix of cultures. Molony had the opportunity of practicing both her French and Turkish with her host family because her host mother, Dilek, grew up in France and her host brothers went to French schools.

For all of the midshipmen, going to Koç provided the opportunity to interact with students from a number of countries other than Turkey. Other exchange students came from, Germany, France, Australia, Mexico, Pakistan, Italy, Netherlands, Denmark, Portugal, South Korea, UK, Canada, Lebanon, and China. The international dynamic proved to be one of the best parts about Koç and often the midshipmen would spend their weekends with students of varying nationalities.

As soon as the weekend came, the mids were no longer to be seen on campus, instead they were out either exploring Istanbul or some of Turkey’s most famous places. Chilbert, Villareal, Molony, and Parker all went on an inexpensive cruise over the four day Bayram weekend. They boarded the boat in Fethiye, and went along the Mediterranean coast, exploring ruins, snorkeling with fish and around coral, as well as eating delicious Turkish cuisine the entire time. On the second day of the cruise, they pulled into St. Nicholas Island, where Santa Claus was born. The group spent the afternoon exploring the island that was littered with ruins dating back to the 4th century A.D. At this same time, Chandler and Musilli explored the Mediterranean town of Bodrum and the ancient ruins of Ephesus. On another trip to Trabzon, a region located on the Black Sea near the country of Georgia, the midshipmen had the opportunity to witness some of Turkey’s natural beauty.

Amidst all the exploring, one theme that could be readily attributed to Istanbul and the country of Turkey as a whole was hospitality. Not only are locals gracious to exchange students and tourists, but they also often go very out of their way to ensure these men and women are able to enjoy their stay and explore their beloved country. In one example of this hospitality, Molony, Nolan, and Chilbert visited Edirne, a Turkish city located west of Istanbul, and a city well known for its incredible displays of mosques as well as a unique museum that covered the development of medicine in this part of Turkey. Because this was one of their first trips, finding their way to each site was difficult until two boys asked if they could help.

"These two boys brought us to every mosque, every site that we asked them to see," said Nolan. "At the end of the night, as we invited the two to join us for dinner. Throughout dinner they laughed as we attempted to order in Turkish, and they yet again made sure we were taken care of."

At the end of the night, the young men took the mids to the bus stop and wished them a safe trip home.

"Never once did they ask for anything from us," said Nolan. "They simply enjoyed both meeting us and helping to give us just a small view of an incredibly unique and beautiful country.”

When the midshipmen first chose to study abroad in Istanbul, they knew that they were going to have a good time and learn more about Turkey and themselves. What they did not expect was the extent to which they would learn about themselves and the humanity that unites us all. From living in a homestay to traveling across a new and dynamic country, they saw more and learned more than they thought possible. But it was in the small moments, the conversations in between classes or over dinner that the students really felt the true nature of Turkey shine through.

As future officers, it is imperative to understand that learning the nuances in different cultures is important. Part of being a better leader is developing a deeper, more worldly understanding and applying this understanding by participating in different cultures, learning new leadership tools from as many sources, and applying them as you go. This past semester, the midshipmen did just that by interacting and participating in an entirely new culture, expanding their knowledge of a new region, and by expanding themselves.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Mids Visit Latvian Embassy in Washington, D.C.

By MIDN 3/C Robert Leddy

Thirty-seven U.S. Naval Academy midshipmen headed to Washington, D.C. to visit the Embassy of the Republic of Latvia March 3.

The midshipmen were members of the academy’s Russian Studies Club. The excursion was led by two Russian professors from the Language and Cultures Department, Professor Dobrunoff and Capt. Malashenok, who was born in Latvia while it was still a part of the Soviet Union. Accompanying the group was also a member of the International Programs Office staff.

While at the embassy, Ambassador Andris Razāns and Defense Attaché Col. Ivo Mogiļnijs  gave the midshipmen a presentation on the culture, history, and military of the small Baltic nation.

Afterwards, the ambassador and the colonel met casually with the midshipmen to answer questions. Twelve of the midshipmen in the club will be journeying to Latvia this summer to participate in the USNA Language Study Abroad Program (LSAP).

Following the embassy visit, we headed to Arlington where we dined at the Russian restaurant Rus Uz, where we were able to eat traditional Russian and Uzbekistani food. The highlight of lunch, in addition to the delicious food, was the opportunity to practice our language skills by having to place our orders (successfully!) to the servers in Russian.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

USNA Kicks Off Women’s History Month

By MCC Nathan Wilkes 

U.S. Naval Academy midshipmen held a Women's History Month kickoff celebration in Laboon Hall Mar. 2.

The event, hosted by the Naval Academy's Joy Bright Hancock Organization (JBHO), gave a unique opportunity for midshipmen and officers on the Yard to learn about prominent female role models throughout history. More than 100 midshipmen attended the event, which highlighted the beginning of many events scheduled for Women's History Month.

"Today is the kickoff for Women's History Month and we are honored to have so many midshipmen and officers here today to help us begin the celebration," said Lt. Stephen McCartney, USNA Assistant Chief Diversity Officer. "This event is a great way to begin the month and introduce everyone to this year's theme."

The theme for this year's Women's History Month is "Weaving the Stories of Women's Lives."

During the presentation, speakers shared the stories of influential women throughout history including: Kady Brownell, Hedy Lamarr, Capt. Winifred Quick Collins, Stephanie Kwolek, and Rear Adm. Katherine Gregory. Midshipmen and officers also shared a few of their own personal experiences while attending the academy and in the Fleet.

"I think that this was a great way to kick off the month," said Midshipman 4th Class David Perez. "It's important that midshipmen take advantage of the vast wealth of experience that is offered here at the Academy and use it to become better leaders.

For this year's Women's History Month, JBHO plans to work on building camaraderie between the female officers on the Yard and female midshipman as well as discuss the future of women's role in the military.

"It was an awesome experience," said Midshipman 2nd Class Nicole Fasolino. "I learned a lot from the presentation and I hope that other midshipmen are able to attend the events that we have scheduled for this month and take away important lessons that they can carry into their daily lives as leaders.

The Joy Bright Hancock Organization began as the only women's organization at the U. S. Naval Academy. Although their mission has adapted over time, it continues to bring female midshipmen together to discuss and address issues related to balancing personal and career choices.