Thursday, December 15, 2016

Send us your Army-Navy photos!


Now that we've all had some time to recover from the pain of loss ... we're looking for your Army-Navy photos!

Over the next few weeks, while the midshipmen are on winter break, we'd love to feature your A-N photos on our social media sites! Please submit your photos to with caption and credit info and we'll post as many as we can!

Happy holidays, everyone, and here's to beating Army next year!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Naval Academy Awarded Third Meritorious Unit Commendation

The Naval Academy received its third Meritorious Unit Commendation from the secretary of the Navy Dec. 8.

The Honorable Ray Mabus presented the citation to the Brigade of Midshipmen, faculty and staff during a ceremony held in Mahan Hall on the Naval Academy Yard.

"I thought it was important to recognize you all in a formal way," said Mabus. "I don't give many MUCs ... but you have earned it as much as any of our forward-deployed forces, as much as any of our warriors have, out protecting this country - as you made possible."

The award recognized the academy's significant achievements from Aug. 1, 2013 to Oct. 1, 2015. The Meritorious Unit Commendation recognizes superior mission accomplishment and is comparable to achievements which would merit the presentation of a Bronze Star Medal to an individual.

The award, signed by Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson, specifically cited the establishment of the academy's "flagship cybersecurity" program, including required cyber courses for all midshipmen and the development of the cyber operations major.

The award also recognized the Naval Academy's U.S. News and World Report rankings during that time period as the "#1 Top Public School," the "#9 Liberal Arts School," and the "#5 Best Engineering School."

According to the citation, the academy "increased its applicant pool by 60 percent, while admitting the highest number of female and minority candidates in its history. In addition, the academy won a record number of league titles, earned numerous national awards for athletes and coaches, and was awarded the Patriot League President's Cup for the best school in conference for the third time in four years."

During the presentation, Naval Academy Superintendent Vice Adm. Ted Carter invited a number of faculty, staff and athletic coaches to the stage.

"This is a complex organization," said Carter. "There are so many people here who make our mission run. These are critical leaders in every element of the Naval Academy.

"We are very honored that the Navy has recognized the Naval Academy with such an award on behalf of this incredible group of professionals," Carter continued. "I am so proud to be a very small part of of this institution and lead everyone from our faculty to our staff to those who take care of the midshipmen to those who run the ships and sailboats - to every aspect of this Naval Academy."

The last time the Naval Academy received the Meritorious Unit Commendation was in 2008.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

USNA Midshipmen hold 26th Annual Giving Tree Ceremony

By Petty Officer Brianna Jones

The United States Naval Academy and the Salvation Army held the 26th annual Giving Tree lighting ceremony Nov. 29 in the rotunda of Bancroft Hall.

Each year, midshipmen from 6th Company decorate the tree with paper angel ornaments that contain the age, gender and gift wish-list of a child in need from the greater Annapolis area.

The midshipmen as well as faculty and staff are encouraged to take an angel from the tree and purchase a holiday gift for the child the ornament represents.

“I love seeing our Naval Academy family rally around a cause like this,” said Midshipman 2nd Class Anna Paz. “Most of us have sponsor families that are community members here in the Annapolis community, we are fortunate to have the support we do, it’s always great to give back any chance we can.

This year, USNA is expecting to provide gifts for approximately 500 children.

"This event, to me, represents one of the purest forms of giving," said Midshipman 1st Class Cabot Bisbee. "Those involved will likely never meet the child they sponsor, and the child won't ever know where the gifts came from."

Despite the fact that they remain anonymous, people will spend hundreds of dollars just to ensure that a stranger has a happy holiday.

“The Naval Academy ‘adopts’ the most kids that we have,” said Lt. Laurie Ferraez, of the Annapolis Salvation Army. “A lot of the support the children get comes from the Naval Academy this time of year. These donations can really brighten a child’s holiday.”

Many of the wishlists include items like electronics, musical instruments, bicycles, winter clothes and footwear.

The angels with the children's names and gift suggestions are provided by the Salvation Army. Each child is from a household where their parent or guardians do not have the extra income to provide holiday gifts.

“I know my fellow midshipman have been working tirelessly on the physical, moral and educational mission,” said Paz. “Annapolis provides us with great support, and being able to give back perfectly wraps up the end of a hard semester.”

The unwrapped donations will be placed under the Giving Tree by Dec. 13th when the Salvation Army will collect, wrap and distribute the gifts to the children.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

USNA Midshipman Dies of Illness

The Naval Academy is mourning the death of Midshipman First Class (senior) Jason Jablonski, 21, of Orchard Park, N.Y., who died yesterday at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center after a fight against leukemia.

“Midshipman Jablonski was well known by fellow Midshipmen for his tremendous optimism and ability to have a positive impact on everyone he met, even in the face a disease like leukemia,” said Naval Academy Commandant Marine Col. Steve Liszewski. “His attitude and fighting spirit can serve as an inspiration to us all, and his passing is a humble reminder about the value of life.”

Jablonski was diagnosed with leukemia in August of this year and was receiving treatment at Walter Reed since the diagnosis. His condition deteriorated significantly over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend and his immune system surrendered to an infection. He was surrounded by his family and fellow midshipmen when he died at approximately 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 27.

Jablonski is a graduate of Saint Francis High School in Athol Springs, N.Y. At the Naval Academy, Jablonski was a member of the 13th Company and the men's (club) ice hockey team. Academically he was an economics major and was on the Superintendent’s list for the past three semesters and on the Commandant’s list every semester during his time at the academy. He previously held positions in his company as a platoon sergeant and a squad leader.

The Naval Academy is supporting the midshipman’s family, friends, and loved ones during this time of grief. Grief counseling services and support are made available to midshipmen, faculty and staff through chains of command, our chaplains, and the Midshipmen Development Center.

Funeral arrangements are pending at this time.

Monday, November 21, 2016

USNA Midshipman Named One of 32 Rhodes Scholars

Midshipman 1st Class (senior) Lucy Ford, 21, of St. Augustine, Fla., was recently selected as the Naval Academy’s 50th Rhodes Scholar. Nearly 900 applicants were endorsed by over 300 schools for one of the 32 scholarships awarded this year.

Ford is an ocean engineering major at the Naval Academy where she focuses on environmental change and energy. She currently serves as the 5th Battalion Commander and is the co-chairman of the Naval Academy Science and Engineering Conference. She is involved in the Women’s Glee Club and mentors youth through the Anne Arundel County Teen Court. As part of a semester exchange, she studied at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore during her junior year.

This past summer Ford received the Summer International Service Leadership (SISL) grant to travel to Kigali, Rwanda where she worked to develop energy policy and increase health care access, electrifying health clinics in rural Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo with sustainable and reliable electricity.

Ford plans to pursue a Master’s of Science in Nature, Society, and Environmental Governance with a focus in Energy Policy followed by a Master’s of Science in Economics for Development at Oxford.

Ford will attend Nuclear Power School after graduating from Oxford to become a submarine officer.

Rhodes Scholarships provide two to three years of study at the University of Oxford in England. Rhodes Scholars are chosen based on high academic achievement, integrity of character, a spirit of unselfishness, respect for others, potential for leadership and physical vigor. The value of the Rhodes Scholarship varies depending on the academic field, the degree pursued, and the college chosen at Oxford. The Rhodes Trust pays all college and university fees, provides a stipend to cover necessary expenses while in residence in Oxford as well as during vacations, and transportation to and from England.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Naval Academy Class of 2017 receives service assignments

By Petty Officer 3rd Class Brianna Jones
The United States Naval Academy (USNA) Class of 2017 received their service assignments Nov. 17, informing them which warfare communities they will serve once they are commissioned as officers in the Navy and Marine Corps.
Throughout their four years of study, midshipmen are exposed to the various career paths offered by the Navy and Marine Corps, and submit their service assignment preferences between the 24 different options in late August of their 1st class (senior) year.
"Service assignment is a pivotal point in a midshipman's career," said Commandant of Midshipman Col. Stephen Liszewski. "I share their excitement as they join their perspective warfare communities."
USNA aims to match the 1,067 first-class midshipmen with a community that suits their personal preferences as well as their aptitude and ability. 95 percent of the Class of 2017 received their first or second assignment preference.
Midshipman 1st Class Julian Turner, of 4th Company, chose surface warfare officer (SWO). Turner is the first of his family to serve in the Armed Forces.

“SWO was my first choice,” said Turner. “I gravitate more toward the people in that community, and I feel that I will be a more impactful leader there because of my values, skills, and how I plan to lead.”

Turner will join 249 other midshipmen entering the SWO community from the academy. Midshipmen who will commission as surface warfare officers will select their first ships in the academy’s annual Ship Selection Nights slated for Jan. 26.
Midshipman 1st Class Sara Tumbas, of 4th Company, said she knew she wanted to be a Navy pilot over the summer when she did a cruise on an aircraft carrier.
“I was a part of power flight, which is a three week program where midshipmen learn how to fly,” said Tumbas. “Even though I never got to fly solo during power flight, just getting up there and being in the cockpit made me realize that I wanted this.”
Tumbas will join 240 of her classmates who were selected to become Navy pilots and 75 who will serve as flight officers.
Following in the footsteps of his father, a Marine aviator for 23 years, Midshipman 1st Class Christian Scroggs will become a Marine Corps officer.
“There was no pressure from home to be a Marine, just a solid role model and an idea of exactly the footsteps I wanted to follow in,” said Scroggs. “My dad is almost as excited as I am.”
Of the 269 midshipmen selected to become Marines, 173 will serve as ground officers and 96 will serve as pilots or flight officers.
Assignments are based on specific requirements provided to USNA by Department of the Navy leadership and consider both a midshipman’s aptitude and preference for a particular assignment. The Naval Academy endeavors to place midshipmen in the community best suited to their strengths, so as to set them up for successful careers of naval service.

The class of 2017 will graduate in May, and join their assigned warfare communities in the fleet.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Understanding the Midshipman Honor Concept

One of the main tenets of the Naval Academy’s mission is “to develop midshipmen morally ... and imbue them with the highest ideals of duty, honor and loyalty”. To educate, shape and inspire thoughts and actions to best prepare the Brigade to become leaders of character – ready to lead Sailors and Marines in the Fleet – honor, integrity, and character are at the core of effective leadership.

The Honor Concept of the Brigade of Midshipmen directly supports USNA’s mission and permeates every pillar and every member of USNA.

The Honor Concept, the ethical baseline that reaffirms the Brigade’s commitment to doing that which is right, explicitly states:

“Midshipmen are persons of integrity:

We tell the truth and ensure that the full truth is known.

We embrace fairness in all actions.  We ensure that work submitted as our own is our own, and that assistance received from any source is authorized and properly documented.

We respect the property of others and ensure that others are able to benefit from the use of their own property.

The Honor Concept, owned by the Brigade, provides the ethical and moral guidelines for officers in training, and promotes trust and confidence across the entire institution. The focus should be on what you should do (positives), and not a codified list of what not to do (negatives). It inspires an innate sense of responsibility to do the right thing in enforcing high standards of honor.

We'll be sharing a series of inspirational posts throughout the academic year that support the notion of honor and developing officers of character. Stay tuned!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

UPDATE: USNA Midshipmen Donate Record-Breaking 80,000 Pounds of Food

By Petty Officer 3rd Class Brianna Jones

UPDATE: A previous version of this story stated the mids collected more than 75,000 pounds of food, which was an initial estimate. The food bank later weighed the food and put the official total at more than 80,000 pounds.

Midshipmen from the United States Naval Academy’s Midshipman Action Group (MAG) and the USNA’s Chaplains Office collected and donated a record-breaking 80,000 pounds of non-perishable food items Nov. 3 for the Harvest for the Hungry Campaign.

Harvest for the Hungry is an annual food drive sponsored by the Anne Arundel County Food and Resource Bank to help low-income families with meals and other basic needs year-round. 

This is the 8th year that MAG has partnered with the Anne Arundel Food Bank and Anne Arundel Public Schools for this campaign, and they were able to donate more food than ever before.

The midshipmen began collecting items in September, participating in a friendly competition between the companies to see who could collect the most food. There is no formal prize, just bragging rights for the winner and the pride of knowing that they helped those in need.

“We don’t get any sort of rewards. We are doing this because we love to help the community,” said project manager Midshipman 1st Class Megan Rosenberger. “One in three kids in Anne Arundel County are food insecure, and we want to do anything we can to help end that. “

The Anne Arundel Food Bank’s on-site feeding programs serve more than one million meals per year which is made possible, in part, by the donations brought in by this event.

“This drive is essential to give us what we need over the holiday season,” said Susan Thomas, associate director of the Anne Arundel Food and Resource Bank. “The amount of food donated by the midshipmen will keep us stocked until spring.”

Annapolis is the home for midshipmen for four years, and for the MAG members, it just makes sense to give back to their immediate community beyond the gates.

“We started working with the Harvest for the Hungry program eight years ago,” said Miriam Stanicic, USNA community relations director. “At that time, we collected 8,000 pounds, and all the food fit in one large van. Never did we dream that just years later, the midshipman would be collecting this amount of food.”

“The midshipmen have been great," said Thomas. "Not just with the food drive, but they volunteer their time at the food bank and are always willing to give help anywhere that we need it."

MAG was established in 1992 as a community relations program for and by the Brigade of Midshipmen. The group offers a variety of educational and social service volunteer projects to instill a sense of servitude that will stick with them all of their lives. MAG encourages peer leadership, teamwork, morale and selflessness - all of which are traits that will set them up for success as naval leaders.

Friday, October 28, 2016

USNA Masqueraders Welcomes New Director

The midshipman theater group, known as the Masqueraders, are getting ready for their fall production, and this year brings some staff changes.

Dr. Megan Geigner became the newest Director of the Masqueraders on Aug. 1, as well as an Assistant Professor of English. Geigner brings experience and enthusiasm to her new position, and looks forward to working with the midshipmen.

“It is a great joy to be the Masqueraders' director,” said Geigner. “The students who participate in the group are a dream to work with, and I feel lucky to spend 20-plus hours a week with them!”

Prior to moving to Annapolis, Geigner received her doctorate in Theatre and Drama from Northwestern University. While at Northwestern she worked on, “A Funny Thing Happended on the Way to the Forum,” “Cabaret,” and a set of student original plays called “State(s) of America”. She is an Artistic Associate with Chicago’s TimeLine Theatre, where she dramaturged “Chimerica” and “Danny Casolaro Died for You.”

She has also worked with several other theatres in Chicago including Court Theatre, Remy Bumppo, and Mary Arrchie. Dr. Geigner has directed plays at the University of Chicago, Reed College, and Illinois State University. She spent seven seasons working the Illinois Shakespeare Festival.

Her work on theatre and drama has been published in Modern Drama, New England Theatre Journal, Theatre History Studies, Cosmopolitan Review, and Theatre Journal.

Geigner took over the director role from Associate Professor Christy Stanlake who served as Director of the Masqueraders for fourteen years. Stanlake continues to teach English at USNA.

“The Masqueraders were unbelievably lucky to have the talents of Professor Stanlake for 14 years,” said Geigner. “She has been invaluable to me in showing me the ropes of the academy, supporting me and the students, and fostering a positive environment for the club.”

The Masqueraders is USNA’s oldest extracurricular activity. Officially established in 1907, the group seeks to promote and stimulate interest in the theatre within the Brigade of Midshipmen, and strives to further midshipmen’s intellectual development through the practical experience of dramatic literature.

Under Geigner’s direction, she plans to foster this identity and promote the group as a signature program in the master academic plan, all while adding a more contemporary repertoire to the group’s performances.

“I am hoping to do contemporary work with them more regularly – plays written since 2000, or even plays written in the last year, and maybe midshipmen-written plays,” said Geigner. “Prior to coming here, I was involved with Chicago's professional theatre scene and had the privilege of helping to develop new plays and work on the first regional theatre productions of plays after their Broadway runs. I hope to bring some of my skills in working with new plays here to the academy.”

Geigner makes her USNA directorial debut with Shakespeare’s “Much Ado about Nothing,” which she began planning in earnest shortly after her arrival on the Yard.

“When asked to select a play for the fall, and knowing that the students had been performing Shakespeare every four years, I was excited to choose ‘Much Ado,’” said Geigner. “In the last decade or so, the Masqueraders have done Shakespearean tragedies and histories, so I wanted the group to have the opportunity to do a comedy. I figure that so much of what our midshipmen do is serious and weighty, so let them tackle the serious and weighty language of Shakespeare in order to tell jokes.”

Additionally, Geigner thought the play was appropriate for this time in USNA’s history.

“At its heart, this is a play about gender relations, and it seemed that there was no better time to do it than on the 40th anniversary of women at the academy,” said Geigner.

One of Shakespeare’s most beloved comedies, “Much Ado about Nothing” delights audiences with its dual and dueling ideas of love, courtship, and the proper behavior of the sexes. It is thought to have been written in 1598 and 1599 and takes place in Messina, a Sicilian port city. Geigner chose to reset the play in the American southwest just after World War I.

“My production is set in 1919 in New Mexico because prior to the Nineteenth Amendment, which didn't go into effect until August of 1920, New Mexico was the only state in the West that didn't have women's suffrage,” she said. “This sets Beatrice and Hero up nicely to be on opposite sides of socio-political history: Beatrice is an outspoken suffragette and Hero is an obedient daughter.”

Midshipman 1st Class Navarro, who plays Hero, agrees with the appropriateness of the play.

“We often do obscure shows, but this one is very relatable and easy to understand,” she said.

Setting the play in New Mexico gives Geigner and the midshipmen a chance to play with the characters as well.

“New Mexico also had a sense of the rugged Wild West so the character of Dogberry, the local sheriff, can play the renegade (albeit absentminded) cowboy,” said Geigner.

The comical character Dogberry is played by Midshipman 1st Class Evan Wray, whose opinion of Shakespeare has changed with his work in the Masqueraders.

“I didn’t think that I liked Shakespeare, and then I read this play, and it’s really funny,” he said. “I think this is the funniest production we have done since I have been part of the Masqueraders.”

The play’s performance dates are November 11, 12, 18 and 19 at 8 p.m., and November 20 at 2 p.m. in Mahan Theater. Tickets cost $13 for the public, $5 for midshipmen. To purchase tickets visit: Tickets can also be purchased at the door the evening of each show.

Mahan Hall is located on Maryland Avenue, near Gate 3. Any military or DoD personnel with a valid military ID can drive directly onto the Academy grounds. The closest parking to the theater is Alumni Hall parking lot. There is limited parking in front of Mahan Hall.

For all other audiences, parking is available out in town. Gate 3 (located at the end of Maryland Avenue) is open until 9 p.m. to any visitor with a valid government-issued photo ID.  Gate 1 (located at the end of King George Street) is open until 1 a.m. on weekends.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

USNA Honors Holocaust Survivor

USNA Superintendent Vice Adm. Ted Carter visited the National Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., this morning to honor Holocaust survivor Nesse Godin for her service to the Naval Academy. 

For 20 years, Godin has lectured at USNA, teaching midshipmen about the mass genocide of World War II and how good leadership is important in preventing such atrocities in the future.

Godin spent several years in various concentration camps during the war after the Nazis invaded her home when she was 13. In January of 1945, she was one of only 200 women who survived a death march, out of 1,000 who started.

Godin has dedicated her adult life to teaching about the Holocaust.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

USNA Breaks Ground on Hopper Hall

The United States Naval Academy (USNA) broke ground on the construction site for its future cyber building, Hopper Hall Oct. 21.

Hopper Hall, which will house the academy's Center for Cyber Security Studies, will include classrooms, research laboratories, lecture halls, and a research and testing tank to support the engineering and weapons lab.

“This will be a state-of-the-art facility where our very best and brightest will get cutting edge training and education in the cyber field,” said academy Superintendent Vice Adm. Ted Carter. “I believe the building serves as yet another attraction the Naval Academy has to offer to future midshipmen.”

Naval Facilities Engineering Command awarded the $106,674,440 contract for the construction of Hopper Hall to Turner Construction Co. of Reston, Va. The building is slated to be completed by September 2019.

Hopper Hall is the namesake of Rear Adm. Grace Hopper, often referred to as the mother of computing. This will be the first building at USNA, as well as at any major service academy, named after a woman.

“I can think of no better way to honor Rear Adm. Hopper’s achievements specific to our cyber program and new cyber building’s function than to name the new building in her honor,” said Carter. “Admiral Hopper’s foresight in computing and pioneering contributions to cyber security, memorialized in Hopper Hall, will inspire midshipmen, support their technical and professional development, and serves as a role model to encourage midshipmen ingenuity and determination for many years to come.”

While this is the first academic building constructed on the yard since Rickover Hall nearly 40 years ago, more importantly, it represents the Naval Academy’s ability to stay at the forefront of academic excellence and relevance in a world in which cyber warfare is certain to be a factor, said USNA Academic Dean Andrew Phillips.

USNA developed a cyber security studies program in response to the Navy’s increased emphasis on operating effectively in an emerging cyber security environment. The program includes a cyber operations major and required cyber courses for all midshipmen.

The class of 2016 graduated the first 27 cyber operations majors in May. With the construction of Hopper Hall, USNA looks forward to producing not only more cyber operations majors, but new naval officers in every field who are cyber-savvy.

Hopper once said that no computer is ever going to ask a new, reasonable, question - that it takes trained people to do that. For the USNA midshipmen, Hopper Hall will be an innovative space for the Navy’s future leaders to do just that.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

U.S. Naval Academy Hosts STEM Workshop for Girls

The U.S. Naval Academy's (USNA) Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) program conducted a Girls-Only STEM Workshop for middle school-age girls Oct. 15 in Rickover Hall.

More than 240 girls from around the region participated in the day-long workshop that included hands-on activities in robotics, chemistry, coastal engineering, sports medicine, applied math, physics and more.

The USNA STEM Center is focused on addressing an urgent national need for more young people to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

“The academy has made an investment in STEM, not only to support the midshipmen, the majors and the technical fleet that they’ll face, but also because they realize it’s the best way to bring opportunity to underserved populations,” said mechanical engineering Professor Angela Moran, director of the STEM Center for Education and Outreach. “A great way to do it is through STEM outreach, because you’re interacting with kids at their level and showing them that the lessons that they learn in the classroom have real-world applications and that scientists and engineers can make the world a better place.”

The Girls-Only STEM Workshop is an inclusive event to help young girls break the stigma that STEM is a male-only field of study. By bringing these young girls together and introducing them to STEM and women who have chosen STEM as a profession, they are learning there are no boundaries when it comes to pursuing their dreams.

“Between middle school and high school there’s a large dropout rate in terms of interest and there’s a switch in terms of aptitude. Suddenly girls are not excelling in science and math areas,” said Moran. “So this idea of an inclusive event where girls see other girls just like them that like programing and like to build things is really good. And for them to see role models and near-peer facilitators like our midshipmen who have also chosen a science and engineering path sends a strong message.”

Diversification is key to success in any field of study. This event is focused on creating gender-diversity in the field of STEM.

“Women are one of the underrepresented groups in STEM, and it’s important to have a diversified workforce to approach problems in different ways to achieve the best results,” said chemistry Professor Sarah Durkin, assistant director of the STEM Center for Education and Outreach. “We want to encourage young women to pursue their interests and not be deterred by stereotypes that may have existed in the past.”

The workshop consisted of hour-long modules testing various student-built designs. Midshipmen and faculty oversaw and demonstrated hands-on projects that showcased robotic programming, meteorology, coastal engineering and more. For Midshipman 3rd Class Ashanti Curry, it was an opportunity to get girls excited about a profession she loves.

“I’ve always loved science, and I want other little girls to love science, too,” said Curry. “When I was younger, STEM wasn’t as stressed with young girls as it is now, and I think we’ve done a great job at seeing the problem and creating events like this to show them that they can do it. We try to teach girls that it’s a growing field in our country and we need them to be engaged.”

For a lot of these girls, STEM isn’t a field of study that they recognize as something they can do. Events like this are often just what’s needed to open their eyes to the possibility of a future in STEM.

“I went to similar STEM camp, and it really opened my eyes to doing STEM as a career,” said Midshipman 2nd Class Mary Campbell. “I know that if I hadn’t been introduced to STEM early, I might not have considered it an option, and I might not be here.”

Midshipman 2nd Class Michelle Tran grew up in a household where STEM was important. As a daughter of an engineer, she was introduced to STEM at an early age, and it helped her decide that a profession in STEM was what she would choose to pursue. For girls who don’t grow up around STEM, events like this are important to stimulate interest and understanding, she said.

“Inspiration starts really early, and I think STEM events like this create that inspiration as early as possible,” said Tran. “By bringing middle school-aged girls together at events like these, they see girls like them doing STEM. The interaction at the very least will help promote a general interest in science and technology.”

USNA is dedicated to bringing STEM to the community. The STEM Center for Education and Outreach hosts about 70 major STEM events annually either at the academy or offsite. This event was sponsored by the Office of Naval Research, the Naval Academy Foundation, and the Northrop Grumman Foundation.

Friday, October 7, 2016

USNA, NSA Annapolis Leadership Sign Domestic Violence Awareness Proclamation

By Petty Officer 3rd Class Brianna Jones

The Naval Support Activity (NSA) Annapolis Fleet and Family Support Center (FFSC) held a Domestic Violence Awareness Month proclamation signing ceremony at the Morale, Welfare, and Recreation pavilion Oct. 5 at NSA Annapolis.

The proclamation highlights the Navy’s role in the community and urges Sailors and family members to increase their efforts in preventing domestic violence and raising awareness.

The event brought together leadership from four Annapolis area commands, including Naval Academy Superintendent Vice Adm. Ted Carter, NSA Annapolis Commanding Officer Capt. Vince Baker, Naval Health Clinic Annapolis Commanding Officer Capt. Michael McGinnis, and Navy Operational Support Center Baltimore Commanding Officer Cmdr. Tasya Lacy.

“Our joint signatures on this proclamation signify a unity of effort bringing awareness to each of our individual commands, the installation, and the Navy community,” said Baker.

According to Galena Kuiper, FFSC clinical and advocacy supervisor, domestic violence is more prevalent in the Navy community than many people realize. People tend to shy away from talking about it, but events like these shine a light on a dark topic, she said.

“Today, we are not necessarily stopping or preventing anything, but rather committing ourselves to raise the level of awareness,” said Carter. ‘Sometimes it is uncomfortable to talk about, but it is essential that we understand the root cause of how these things happen.”

The Family Advocacy Program (FAP) offers an array of services for prevention and case management to aid those impacted by domestic violence.

“Prevention is our goal,” said Kuiper. “However, when something happens, we are also here to help the family by providing counseling and support.”

FAP representatives are located at FFSCs Navy-wide. The FAP investigates each report and performs actions to safeguard victims and provide supportive services. FAP also provides the option to make a restricted report, allowing the victim to receive supportive services without disclosure to the command or law enforcement.

Anyone who suspects domestic violence may file a report by contacting their installation's FFSC. Support is also available through the Domestic Abuse Hotline at (800)-799-SAFE.

Friday, September 30, 2016

New Brigade Commander Vows to "Never Settle"

By Petty Officer 2nd Class Tyler Caswell

Dozens of onlookers gather out front of the United States Naval Academy’s (USNA) Bancroft Hall. The entire Brigade of Midshipmen is gathered, all present or accounted for. A silence washes over the crowd as companies of midshipmen end their facing movements.

Overseeing noon meal formation is the fall semester Brigade Commander Midshipman 1st Class Stephen Phillips. Holding the highest position in the midshipman command structure, he is responsible for much of the brigade's daily activities and training.

“I’m honored to be able to represent the Brigade of Midshipman as brigade commander,” said Phillips. “I’m excited about what the brigade staff is doing and what the squad leaders - our brigade’s back bone - are accomplishing.”

Commanding more than 4,400 midshipmen, the brigade commander position demands a midshipman who will best represent the brigade as a whole. While holding this rank, the brigade commander is expected to execute policies, ensure mutual respect for all midshipmen, maintain brigade efficiency, be sensitive towards general morale, and is accountable for brigade conduct, reporting deficiencies to the Commandant of Midshipmen, and recommending corrective action.

In other words, it's a lot for your average college student. But then, the students who apply to the Naval Academy tend to be more than average. Phillips recalls the moments in his life that ultimately led to his decision to apply to the Naval Academy:

“After Summer Seminar, I told my father that this is what I wanted,” said Phillips. “Before that point, I think he shied away to not have his career and choice influence my own."

Phillips' father graduated from the academy in 1992, and his grandfather was a 1967 grad. Both served as surface warfare officers. Growing up in a military family, Phillips wanted to serve to give back.

“Our dinner table was always full of sea stories,” he said. “But serving was ultimately my decision. It was around 9/11 when my father was recalled to serve and that was about the time I first considered going to USNA. I value my friends and family most, and the ability to serve and make that sacrifice for them, I feel, is the greatest kind of gift I can give them.”

Born in Virginia Beach, Va. Phillips has called Annapolis home since moving here in 2001. He attended the University of the Maryland as an electrical engineering major after not being selected on his first application for USNA. After a semester he knew his heart was still set on Annapolis, so he reapplied - and got his wish. After a brief exposure to civilian college life, he was on his way to follow in the footsteps of his father and grandfather.

Phillips sought leadership responsibilities early - as training corporal and brigade training sergeant during his third class year and a 7th Company squad leader during his second class year. These opportunities helped prepare him for the Brigade Commander Selection Board which measures a nominee's aptitude to set an example, operate efficiently within the chain of command, delegate and supervise, and maintain the standards of the Brigade of Midshipmen.

“There is a transition from when you are worried about yourself, about making sure you are at the top of your game, to considering how you take what you know about being a good midshipman and pass that on to others to help them,” said Phillips. “Whether you’re a youngster or squad leader, you can have an impact, but you have to make an effort as an individual.”

As a second class midshipman, he was leading his peers as a squad leader. He emphasized his appreciation for the squad leaders within the brigade, knowing the influence of the day-to-day, one-on-one influence that position holds.

“It’s a tough position, and I struggled sometimes. I had first class midshipmen in the squad I was leading, and had to learn how that relationship should work,” said Phillips. “I had a daily impact on the lives of plebes and youngsters. Reflecting on the small unit level gives me the opportunity to assist and weigh in on the squad leaders holding those positions now. I’m happy to try to help anyway possible because the squad leaders carry the brigade - they implement changes and have impact.”

Phillips does his best to hold the brigade to a motto of “Never Settle." He challenges the brigade to demand the best from themselves, inspiring the best in their leaders and followers, and expecting the best from their peers.

“We didn't come here for it to be easy, but when we are bogged down in academics, athletics, and military obligations, we are more likely to settle for the easy road than to stick it out on the hard one,” said Phillips. “Whether it's stopping a little early on a run, quitting on a homework assignment, or letting the dust bunnies build up to epic status, we all have moments where we know we should do something, but we settle for something easier.

"My goal is to identify those moments in our day and force ourselves to take the hard road, to never settle," he said.

Together with the brigade staff, Phillips is confident the Brigade of Midshipmen will rise to the challenge and strive to take the road less traveled. In the end, he knows they will look back and have greater appreciation for overcoming their challenges.

“I cannot emphasize how much the brigade staff does, how much work they do,” said Phillips. “It’s been an enormous amount of effort since before Plebe Summer. They are very dedicated. They make the policies and implement the changes that run the brigade, not me. I'm not trying to be noble or humble, it's just the honest truth. It’s hard work, and I’m proud of everyone for what they are accomplishing."

Phillips believes that whatever his future holds, USNA has given him the tools to succeed no matter the job or location.

“I’m not worried about where I go after USNA,” said Phillips. “No matter where I’m at or what I’m doing, I’m going to serve at my full capacity. Where I’m at is not the important thing for me. Serving is.”

Thursday, September 29, 2016

U.S. Naval Academy Offers High Performance Computing Capability

The U.S. Naval Academy recently received a high-performance computer acquired through grants provided by the Office of Naval Research and Department of Defense High Performance Computing Modernization Program.

USNA is the nation’s first educational institution to provide HPC instruction and research capabilities in an undergraduate-only environment.

The Cray XC-30 computer, named “Grace” after computer science pioneer Rear Adm. Grace Hopper, will be used by multiple departments to support midshipmen and staff research as part of USNA’s Center for High Performance Computing. The HPC allows access for massive computations for simulations and research.

“I think one of the big things midshipmen take away from using the HPC is the size and scale of what’s possible when really using the machine for high-end computations," said Distinguished Visiting Professor Carl Albing, co-director of the Center for High Performance Computing. "There are problems that you want to simulate because you can’t have or don’t want real-life instances. Whether performing a simulation of orbiting planets in a galaxy or the effects of detonating a warhead without actually blowing one up, this computer is capable.”

The Center for High Performance Computing enables a variety of educational opportunities through its faculty members, including research projects, internship experiences, and initiatives that enhance the academy's education program in a variety of disciplines beyond computer science.

“HPC greatly expands on complication resources beyond what you can achieve on a reasonable desktop computing platform,” said Cmdr. Stuart Blair, associate chair of the Mechanical Engineering Department. “My most current project simulates air flow through a cascade of turbine blades, measuring the full pressure and velocity field. The on-going research aims to improve the efficiency of turbine engines.

"By using an HPC to simulate this, we can take measurements on thousands of points, adjust the geometry of turbine blades and run the simulation again," said Blair. "We achieve this without costly production.”

"Grace" is currently housed at the University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies. The Center for High Performance Computing hopes that understanding the HPC’s architecture, performance and capabilities will help encourage faculty, staff and midshipmen to use the systems.

“We are trying to reach out to as many departments here at USNA as possible,” said computer science Assistant Professor Gavin Taylor, Center for High Performance Computing co-director. “We are educating professors and midshipmen on its capabilities and hardware and how to use this computer.”

For more information about "Grace" or USNA’s Center for High Performance Computing, visit:

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

International Programs Photo of the Week: Chile

From Midshipmen 2nd Class Miller Bethea, Tomas Aguilar and Rachel Labuda on a recent trip they took in Chile:

"The majority of the week was spent in San Pedro de Atacama, in the north of Chile. San Pedro is a small town located in one of the oases found in the Atacama region of Chile, famous for the Atacama Desert.

It is one of the driest places on Earth, and quite honestly one of the most impressive places we have ever traveled to. We had the opportunity to travel to geysers, to Valle de la Luna (Valley of the Moon), across salt ranges, to other small pueblos in the region, to hidden lakes, and to see flamingoes in their natural habitat.

It was not only an overall cheaper trip than our trip to Easter Island, but we also found it to be more fun and informational. It gave us the opportunity to meet people from all over the world: France, Brazil, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Germany, and Argentina. We heard more different languages being spoken in San Pedro at one time than we ever had heard before. And we had the opportunity to see one of Chile’s most famous regions, feel like we were walking on Mars, and learn about geology and history."

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Naval Academy To Name Cyber Building After Computing Pioneer Rear Adm. Grace Hopper

U.S. Naval Academy Superintendent Vice Adm. Ted Carter announced during his opening remarks at the Naval Academy History Conference Sep. 8 that the academy's future Cyber Building will be named after Navy Rear Admiral Grace Hopper.

The annual conference this year appropriately honors the 40th anniversary of women attending the Naval Academy with the title "Athena Conference: Heroines of the Past, Present and Future."

"I can think of no better way to honor Rear Admiral Hopper's achievements specific to our cyber program and new cyber building's function than to name the new building in her honor," said Carter. "Admiral Hopper's foresight in computing and pioneering contributions to cyber security, memorialized in Hopper Hall, will inspire midshipmen, support their technical and professional development, and serve as a role model to encourage midshipmen ingenuity and determination for many years to come."

Hopper Hall will be the first building at the Naval Academy named after a woman.

Hopper was an accomplished mathematician and a pioneer in developing computer technology. She worked on a team to develop the UNIVAC computer and convert mathematic code into language, developing the first compiler in 1952 which led to the creation of COBOL. Hopper served as the director of the Navy Programming Languages Group in the Navy's Office of Information Systems Planning and developed validation software for COBOL and its compiler as part of a COBOL standardization program for the Navy.

Construction of Hopper Hall at the site between Nimitz Library and Rickover Hall will begin shortly after completion of the parking garage on Decatur Road. The facility will include classrooms, teaching and research laboratories, lecture halls, office, an observatory and research and testing tank in support of the engineering and weapons labs. Completion of the project is planned for September 2019.

“This will be a state-of-the-art facility where our very best and brightest will get cutting edge training and education in the cyber field," said Carter.

The Naval Academy was the first institution of higher learning in the U.S. to create mandatory cyber security classes. The academy began offering a cyber operations major in 2013. Additionally, various cyber security topics have been added to the leadership and professional curriculum, and the USNA Center for Cyber Security Studies is formally designated as an NSA/Department of Homeland Security National Center of Excellence in Information Assurance Education.

“While this is the first academic building constructed on the Yard since Rickover Hall nearly 40 years ago, more importantly it represents the Naval Academy’s ability to stay at the forefront of academic excellence and relevance as we develop midshipmen for their future careers in a world where cyber warfare is certain to be a factor,” said Naval Academy Academic Dean Andrew Phillips.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Broadening Horizons: Five Midshipmen Study Abroad in Singapore

From the USNA International Programs Office

Through the Naval Academy’s International Programs Office and STEM Study Abroad program, five midshipmen traveled to Singapore to spend the spring semester studying at Nanyang Technological University. The purpose of sending midshipmen abroad is to enhance the global knowledge of our country’s future leaders.

Midshipmen 1st Class Alexander Couch, Chris Evans, Lucy Ford, Miki Szabo, and Billy Walker spent four months immersing themselves in the Singaporean culture. While studying in STEM fields, they also worked on language studies. Though there are four official languages in Singapore, each midshipman took the opportunity to study Mandarin Chinese.

 Each midshipmen also produced a portfolio focusing on a unique topic within the culture, such as food or environmental awareness.

“The opportunity to go abroad has expanded my worldview and has created a desire to continue traveling,” said Couch.

Additionally, three of the midshipmen participated in a military exchange with Singapore for the first time in Naval Academy history. Couch, Evans, and Szabo were part of a military exchange with the Singapore Armed Forces, during which they visited the Changi Naval Base and worked with Singaporean midshipmen.

As part of this exchange, three Singaporean midshipmen are attending the U.S. Naval Academy for the fall 2016 semester.

On an educational level, these exchange agreements are vital to the development of young naval officers. The exchanges provide interaction and insight into another culture and its military. Professional relationships are started that benefit these young officers throughout their entire careers. For example, Teo Yu Run, a Singaporean midshipman, will be rooming with Szabo during the fall semester at the academy. The two midshipmen met while Szabo was on his exchange in Singapore the previous semester.

On a more strategic level, the exchange agreements are important because they help to further our naval force’s working relationship with one of its allies.

The three midshipmen on military exchange were fortunate enough to spend a day engaging with Singapore’s Navy at their east coast port, Changi Naval Base. They met the U.S. naval attaché to Singapore and received a personal tour of the base’s naval museum and port.

According to the midshipmen, the highlight of their tour was meeting the cadets at Singapore’s Officer Candidate School. There was a question and answer session where the midshipmen learned about the cadets’ training and Singapore’s military conscription. The cadets also asked about the Naval Academy, at which point the midshipmen had to debunk all the myths from the movie Annapolis. The mids ended the day by joining the cadets’ physical training session, which after two sets of exercises, quickly devolved into a game of basketball. It was apparent that even a world apart, the midshipmen and cadets were more similar than different.

“The semester definitely improved my independence and comfort with new people and situations,” said Evans.

Nanyang Technological University was able to offer a variety of athletics.  From casual pick-up games with locals to intense intramural rivalries, the university was a hotbed for sports. Evans and Walker were active participants on the school’s track and field team. The two Navy runners could be found working out with the team on the track every Wednesday.

Ford spent most of her time with the university running club, pursuing her goals in the various road races Singapore had to offer, while Couch frequented the soccer field where he would join intense pick-up soccer games.

In addition to the weekly workouts, several of the midshipman had the opportunity to show off their skills in an intramural road race relay. Walker, Evans, and Ford all ran for their respective halls in the relay race.

With help from the university staff and the amazing exchange student body, the midshipmen experienced all areas of Singaporean culture. They immersed themselves in everything from exotic cuisines to the local nightlife.

“Living in Singapore exposed me to so many different cultures and ways of life that were all beneficial to my leadership development,” said Ford.

In Singapore, the mids had the opportunity to visit neighboring island Palau Ubin and interact with its native monkeys, wild boars, and water monitors. They celebrated the year of the monkey at the annual Chinese New Year festival. The midshipmen explored Singapore’s rich history with Malaysia by eating at a Hawker Stand in the Little Malay neighborhood. And they were even fortunate to spend a night at Singapore’s iconic Marina Bay Sands hotel and rooftop infinity pool.

For their Spring Break trip, the midshipmen chose to travel through Vietnam. Starting in Ho Chi Minh City, they began a two week adventure north through Hoi An and Hanoi. While in Ho Chi Minh, they took a trip to the Cu Chi Tunnels where they learned about the Viet Cong and were even allowed to crawl through a segment of the tunnels. In Hoi An, they experienced what the city has been made famous for when they shopped for hand-made clothing like suits and dresses.

In the final city they visited, Hanoi, the midshipmen were most interested by their visit to the notorious Hanoi Hilton. For what was the most exotic meal of their semester, they killed and ate a mountain cobra. The snake’s blood was served as a beverage while the body was prepared in array of colorful dishes. The trip was an incredible learning experience, especially because of the insight it offered into Vietnam War.

“My experience in Singapore has given me such an incredible foundation for growth both in my professional career and in my personal pursuit of knowledge and adventure,” said Szabo.

“At the end of the trip, I almost didn’t have time to pack because I wanted to squeeze in a few more cultural activities,” said Walker.

Studying in Singapore provided these midshipmen with skills that will assist them throughout the rest of their lives.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Exploring Kazakhstan: A Semester Abroad in Almaty

Midshipman 2nd Class Ian Best writes about his experiences during a semester spent studying abroad in Kazakhstan. 

As the ninth largest country in the world with a population slightly over 17 million, Kazakhstan plays an important role in the world. From a historical perspective, this central Asian country has formed the geological and cultural bridge between Europe and Asia for centuries. Traders on the Silk Road in Kazakhstan exchanged beliefs, information, and practices between these two continents.

Today, Kazakhstan continues to serve as a bridge between many countries and has an expanded influence on international politics. Of additional importance, Kazakhstani culture shares many similarities with that of the Russian tradition, including the widespread use of the Russian language.

The Naval Academy provided me the unique opportunity to spend the spring semester of the 2016 academic year in Almaty, the former capital of Kazakhstan and its current largest city. Abroad, I balanced my studies with practical experience in an effort to both appreciate the cultural and political significance of Kazakhstan and to improve my Russian language abilities.

Photo courtesy of MIDN 2/C Ian Best

In Almaty, I attended classes at Kazakhstan National University in the International Relations Department through the American Councils Study Abroad Program. I studied Russian four days a week with Kazakh professors. They focused on phonetics, grammar, reading, and writing. Each day presented a new challenge: sometime my fellow classmates and I would present Russian articles and stories we had read, other times we would discuss new vocabulary and grammar.

My personal favorite topic was Russian idioms. Russian language is extremely rich; it is filled with sayings and expressions with fascinating historical contexts. I did my best to learn as many different idioms as I could so as to better understand the underlying Russian cultural significance and be able to converse more colloquially with the locals.

On Fridays, the American students studied Kazakh language, history, and politics. This was a particularly interesting opportunity for my classmates and me, as Kazakh is a Turkish-based language and shares very few similarities with Russian. We also learned in this class the important role Kazakhstan plays as a key nation in Central Asia and how it balances its many competing foreign influences.

Photo courtesy of MIDN 2/C Ian Best

But I did more than schoolwork. I often took advantage of the spectacular neighboring mountains by skiing or hiking through the foothills. West Point cadets Joseph Woolfork and Tyler Payne and I organized several trips with local tour guides. One trip, for example, found us summiting a mountain. On another, we hiked to a remote point in the hills to visit a century-old yet still functioning monastery.

Other excursions were directly sponsored by American Councils. Once a week, we would visit a site of cultural and often historical significance, ranging from museums to parks to falconry demonstrations. Toward the end of the semester, we traveled to Northern Kazakhstan to visit the cities of Karaganda, Pavlodar, and most importantly the capital Astana.

Each excursion provided excellent opportunities to practice Russian language and gain a better appreciation of Kazakhstan. I enjoyed applying the language skills I was learning in class to real-world situations. I could simultaneously expand my vocabulary and gain a deeper appreciation for this incredible country.

Photo courtesy of MIDN 2/C Ian Best

Not every midshipman is afforded the opportunity to directly experience another country for an entire semester. I will never forget my time abroad and will remain forever grateful to the staff members of the International Programs Office at USNA.

Not only will I fondly remember the incredible people I met overseas and the amazing adventures I had, but I will also apply the cultural and lingual experience I gained in my future career as a naval officer. I hope to bridge cultural gaps during my military career and ultimately bring diverging cultures into closer understanding to strengthen international partnerships.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Class of 2018 Commits to Active Service

By MC2 Tyler Caswell

The 1,053 midshipmen of the U.S. Naval Academy Class of 2018 celebrated their commitment to five years of service after graduation at the annual Commitment Dinner Aug. 23.

Photo by MC2 Tyler Caswell

For the first two years of their education at USNA, midshipmen have the option to leave the Naval Academy without committing to active duty service.

When they return for their third year, however, the second-class midshipmen must make the serious decision of continuing their service for seven more years – two at the academy and five in the Fleet as naval or Marine Corps officers. This is when they sign their "2 for 7" agreements during a formal ceremony for each company in Bancroft Hall.

“Plebes come in on Induction Day and they make a big commitment in front of everyone,” said Lt. Mike Wallace, 4th Company Officer. “Over the course of two years, they truly develop into budding leaders that understand the gravity of why they are here and the purpose they are here for.”

The “2 for 7” agreement is more personal, said Wallace.

“Now they make the decision to continue on as individuals. They are committing to serve on active duty, and to lead Sailors and Marines honorably and with distinction,” he said.

After spending two years at USNA committing to professional and personal development, many midshipmen felt the commitment was an easy decision for them to make.

Photo by MIDN 1/C Dylan Prenda

“For me, the 2 for 7 was an affirmation to a commitment I’ve already had,” said Midshipman 2nd Class Adam Oster. “It really wasn’t a question of whether or not I would sign. I’ve been inspired by the experiences I have had with individuals who have attended and are attending USNA. The exemplary character, the success they have in service and in their civilian life, and the demeanor in which they treat others around them made me want to continue to be a part of the Navy.”

In addition to signing their individual service contracts, the mids collectively as a class sign the “Honor Scroll,” which they presented Commandant of Midshipmen Marine Col. Stephen Liszewski at the Commitment Dinner.

“Tonight is a night to do three things,” said Liszewski during his remarks at the dinner. “The first is to remember, the second is to reflect, and the third is to renew. Remember what it was that brought you to USNA, reflect on what you have accomplished in the two years you have been here and most importantly renew your faith. You have fantastic careers and futures ahead of you.”

Members of the Class of 1968, also known as the “Link in the Chain” class for graduating 50 years prior to the Class of 2018, were in attendance. Retired Adm. Mike Mullen – a member of the Class of 1968 – delivered the keynote address.

“The 2 for 7 commitment is a big deal,” said Mullen. “Someday you will be called to active duty to defend your country and potentially die for your country. You are an incredible minority and at the same time hold up a wonderfully strong pillar in our country. Never underestimate what you are and what you will do.”

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

USNA Beauticians Mark 30 Years of USNA Service

By MC2 Tyler Caswell

In just days, approximately 4,500 students making up the Brigade of Midshipmen will start the 2017 academic year. And after a summer away from Bancroft Hall, many will need a haircut.

A constant flow of midshipmen, officers and enlisted will enter the doors of the first wing in Bancroft Hall, where the buzzing of clippers will mesh with conversation as a dozen barbers and beauticians ensure their clients leave the barbershop looking better than when they came in.

For two individuals, this has been their environment for three decades.

Paula Clarke and Florence Jackson have worked side-by-side polishing midshipmen’s appearance at the U.S. Naval Academy Barbershop. As the academy prepares for the influx of midshipmen returning from vacation and summer training, Aug. 16 marks the anniversary of the day Clarke and Jackson began their USNA careers 30 years ago.

“Personally I feel like USNA is a part of my family,” said Florence – known to all her clients as Flo. “My father, brother and sisters all have worked here. USNA has been good to me, and I love it here.”

Both feel that the job they have allows midshipmen to walk away with confidence, feeling and looking a bit brighter than when they entered.

“It’s a privilege to be able to affect the midshipmen’s appearance, to be able to give them a little boost,” said Paula. “It’s an honor that during walk-ins, there are people that will spend their time waiting for me to be available. It makes me feel good to know they want me to cut their hair and trust me with their appearance.”

Midshipmen and officers return to see Paula and Flo, spanning from their time as midshipmen to years down the road as returning officers and instructors.

“I love the community here, I love watching midshipmen grow and even return as officers later,” said Flo. “I’ve had people return years after graduating to come see me, and that says something about this place and the people here.”

The walls of the barbershop hold photos of Paula and Flo working with midshipmen. Smiles are shared, emblematic of the priority they place on getting to know the people that sit in their chairs.

“The midshipmen all feel like my children,” said Flo. “They know that when they sit down with me, what we talk about is between us. I care about them on a personal level and want them to be comfortable when they sit down – and happy when they leave.”

A thirty year career at USNA has shown the two how much USNA values tradition, but also how it can change and grow to perform its mission to train future leaders.

“I came here as a beautician because the number of females attending USNA was growing,” said Paula. “Now it’s a regular thing, and it doesn’t cross my mind. This place has always kept its people in mind. Which is why I stay here, and why I want to keep working here.”

The two plan to remain at USNA to improve appearances, offer guidance and share laughs among the midshipmen and staff. For more information about USNA’s barbershop, visit

Friday, August 12, 2016

Class of 2020 Reunites With Family and Friends

By MC3 Brianna Jones

Thousands of family members and friends anxiously scan the ranks of the noon meal formation, in hopes of spotting the class of 2020 plebe that belongs to them. It has been six weeks since these loved ones said goodbye to their sons and daughters and turned them over to the upperclass midshipman detailers for Plebe Summer training. Plebe Parents’ Weekend, August 11-14, provides an opportunity for parents to reunite with their plebes after the intensive six weeks of Plebe Summer that paves the way to a midshipman's freshman year at the U.S. Naval Academy.

Plebe Summer, which began with Induction Day July 1, is a fast-paced, boot camp-style orientation that begins four years of preparing midshipmen to become commissioned naval officers. It challenges the new midshipmen to develop leadership ability, motivation, moral courage, teamwork and physical strength.

Even through the rigors of Plebe Summer, the class of 2020 has maintained a positive attitude and has already made an impression on their leadership.

“The personality of the brigade, to me, is driven by the senior class, and sometimes more importantly, by the plebe class,” said Vice Adm. Ted E. Carter Jr., superintendent of USNA. “The class of 2020 might be the most exuberant class that we have seen here in recent memory.”

The Class of 2020 is composed of men and women from all over the United States and includes 12 international students from around the globe. Only approximately two thirds of the class came directly from high school; the remainder came from four-year colleges or universities, directly from the fleet, or one of the preparatory schools around the country.

“This is the first class in any service academy history where congressmen and senators have made a nomination from every single voting district in the country,” said Carter.

For the family and friends reuniting with their plebes, it can be shocking to see how much they have changed. Parents say that the new mannerisms their plebes have adopted make them seem almost unrecognizable. They stand taller and straighter, pivot around corners, address everyone as “sir" or "ma'am," and say things like “where is the head?”

"Seeing him leave for Plebe Summer was exciting. It was heartbreaking and came with a lot of anxiety, but I’ve never been more proud,” said Tracy McClure, mother of Midshipman 4th Class Kyran McClure. “I’m just so excited to get my arms around him.”

During the four-day weekend, parents are able to see a formal parade, tour the dorms at Bancroft Hall, and meet with faculty and staff members to get a glimpse of life at the academy and what to expect during the upcoming year.

The Class of 2020 is scheduled to join the Brigade of Midshipmen during reform Aug. 18-20. At that point, the plebes will move to their permanent company spaces in preparation for the academic school year.

See more photos from Plebe Parents Weekend on the USNA Flickr page.

Friday, July 1, 2016

U.S. Naval Academy Inducts Class of 2020

By MC3 Brianna Jones

The U.S. Naval Academy welcomed the 1,184 men and women of the incoming Class of 2020 in Annapolis June 30 during Induction Day.

Induction Day - or I-Day - marks the beginning of a demanding six-week indoctrination period called Plebe Summer, during which civilian students are indoctrinated into military life.

 This indoctrination period is meant to help plebes develop discipline, honor, self-reliance and organization. These attributes will provide them with the foundation they will need to be successful midshipmen and throughout their military careers.

"Today is a really special day for these guys and girls," said Midshipman 1st Class Ryan Bailey, one of the Plebe Summer detailers who will be training the plebes. "We've all been through it so being on the other side now, it's pretty cool to experience it again from a different viewpoint."

The new class includes 853 men and 331 women - making up 28 percent of the incoming students. This is the largest number of women to be inducted into the Naval Academy in the 40 years since women were first admitted.

Among the new plebes are 17 international students from 13 countries: Bulgaria, Cameroon, Honduras, Kazakhstan, Korea, Marshall Islands, Mexico, Micronesia, Philippines, Peru, Poland, Singapore and Tunisia.

Seventy-five of the incoming plebes are prior enlisted personnel, 66 from the Navy and 9 from the Marine Corps.

On I-Day, the new plebes receive uniforms and military haircuts, undergo medical evaluations, learn to render a salute, and complete their registration.

Each plebe receives a copy of "Reef Points," a 225-page handbook of information about the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, the Naval Academy's history and traditions, their administrative chain of command, and the general orders of a sentry. The new midshipmen are required to memorize approximately 1,000 facts outlined in the book.

I-Day concludes when the midshipmen take the Oath of Office in front of their family, friends and new classmates during a ceremony in Tecumseh Court. After the ceremony, plebes say goodbye to their families who will not see them again until Plebe Parents Weekend, Aug. 11-14.

With the conclusion of I-Day, Plebe Summer officially begins. During this time, plebes start each day at dawn with mandatory physical training. The remainder of each day is packed with drills and instruction on the military lifestyle and more physical training. The plebes are allotted minimal leisure time.

During these six weeks, the plebes are led and trained by upper-class midshipmen. Instruction includes seamanship, boat handling, navigation and small arms training.

"During plebe summer, these young men and women will be challenged morally, mentally and physically," said Naval Academy Superintendent Vice Adm. Ted Carter during a presentation to the plebe parents. "It will not be easy, but Plebe Summer applies pressure with a purpose."

The strict atmosphere instills a drive in the students to excel both in and out of the classroom.

"We recognize the talent that is in your sons and daughters," said Carter, addressing the parents of the incoming plebes. "They could have gone to Ivy League schools or any other service academy. They had choices and they chose to join the U.S. Navy."

Carter said that the outstanding cumulative SAT scores, athletic prowess and diversity of extracurricular activities of the class of 2020 were some of the best he had ever seen and told the parents they should be proud as they watch their sons, daughters and family members depart for their four-year adventure at the Naval Academy.

"His freshman year of high school, he told me he wanted to be a Marine and attend the academy, this is truly his dream," said Anne Pastrana, mother of an incoming plebe. "As a mother I couldn't be more proud to see my son living out his dream."

The incoming plebes that comprise the class of 2020 represent some of the brightest youth in the country and will one day become part of the less than one percent of the population who volunteer to serve their country, said Carter.