“My motto for it is ‘Change Lives,’” said Westerberg. The idea is to encourage the leadership within the brigade to focus less on the metrics and more on teaching habits that future officers can bring with them to the fleet.
In other words, it’s not just about raising someone’s PRT score, but teaching them how to build a plan for lasting fitness – and how they can do the same for their people when they’re standing in front of a division.
|Midshipman 1st Class Jenna Westerberg, this semester's|
It’s also about holding people to higher standards and encouraging them to do the difficult right in the face of an easier wrong, said Westerberg.
“It's something that will be important in the fleet, because there are a lot of easy wrongs to do out there that can have bigger consequences than not shining your shoes,” she said.
Though Westerberg wanted to be on the brigade staff, she wasn’t expecting to be selected for the top position.
“The thing that has surprised me the most is how much time I spend just talking to people. I've met a lot more people than I knew before the semester,” she said. “It's cool to see what ideas people have, what they're passionate about. There's a huge talent pool in the brigade.”
She brings a lot of previous leadership experience with her. As a second class midshipman, she served as the brigade sergeant major, what she described as a “very task-oriented, organizational kind of billet.” In that role, she supervised and made recommendations to the brigade commander on the performance, training, appearance and conduct of underclass midshipmen.
The experience helped her become more organized and that, along with humility, are two important leadership traits that she feels will help her in her current role and beyond.
“Bringing that experience in helps,” she said. “Sometimes people are better at the visionary and not so good at the details. I'm better at the details and sometimes struggle with the visionary a little bit. It's a different perspective.”
She also served as a company commander during Plebe Summer and a squad leader during fall semester her second class year.
"It's cool to work with a small group of people you get to know very well. It's most relevant to what we'll be in the fleet,” said Westerberg. “Realistically, the squad leader's the backbone of the brigade. When you're a division officer, you're not going to be leading 4,000 people."
Westerberg, a naval architecture major, will be going into the submarine community when she graduates. Serving in the Navy was something she wanted to do since she was a child.
“I knew I wanted to do something with my career that focused on service,” she said. “The military fit that, and I liked the structure and discipline and, more importantly, the fact that the Navy's very technical. I felt like that fit my skill set better.”
Having attended a high school that offered exposure to engineering classes, she knew when she got here she wanted to study some kind of engineering.
“It’s kind of a childhood dream I’m living out,” she said.