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.