No one was more surprised than Naval Academy Midshipman 1st Class Isabel Krause when she was selected for the brigade commander position for spring semester 2017.
"There are people at this institution who are very amazing, who are ten times more qualified than I am for this billet," said Krause. "I'm fortunate most of them are on my staff so I get to work with those people every single day."
A self-proclaimed "Navy brat," Krause has lived in a lot of different places, so claiming a hometown is complicated. She graduated high school in Naples, Italy. Her parents - both '93 grads - now live in Davidsonville, Maryland. Her father, Cmdr. Jeff Krause, is a naval aviator currently working with Foreign Area Officers at the Pentagon.
Though the daughter of USNA alumni, she never seriously considered attending the academy until her junior year of high school. She had always been attracted to military service, but thought she wanted to do something like the Reserve Officer Training Corps and attend a civilian college.
"I grew up surrounded by people who dedicated their lives to service, but I didn't think that path would take me to the Naval Academy. I thought I wanted something different. I was wrong."
She's grateful she made the decision.
"This place is amazing," said Krause. "Everybody's very like-minded. Everyone really buys into the bigger picture. Everybody's driven to be a part of something bigger than them. That binds us all together."
The experiences and relationships she has built here make for a special connection between her classmates, she said.
Only about six weeks into the job of running the brigade staff (which in turn runs the entire 4,400-strong Brigade of Midshipmen), Krause has already learned a lot about practical leadership.
"Learning how to empower my regimental commanders" has been an eye-opening experience, she said. Understanding how to motivate people with very different leadership styles themselves has been an interesting challenge for her.
"How you deliver tasks or how you deliver your vision to different people is going to get you different results," she said. "It's probably been one of the coolest things so far about the job."
Krause, a systems engineering major with a minor in Spanish, always expected she would be an aviator, but after spending time in the submarine community during summer cruise, she changed her mind. She found the same drive that attracted her to the Naval Academy among the officers and enlisted on the submarine and was hooked.
"The mission and the people are 100 percent exactly what I'm interested in."
She'll start her career by attending Nuclear Power School after graduation this May with the goal of becoming a submarine officer, but until then she has a big vision for the brigade. Her overarching theme for her peers is "Be worthy." She wants to encourage other midshipmen to not just put the checks in the box to get to graduation but to actively develop themselves into future leaders.
There are three areas of focus she emphasizes: integrity in all things, by which she means not just do the right thing, but hold others to a higher standard; 360 degree leadership, which means providing leadership up and down the chain of command and also to one's peers; and ownership, being all in.
"Inspirational leadership shouldn't just come from a first class midshipman," said Krause. "You can inspire your peers as well. A lot of times people think inspirational leadership is only top-down."
In addition to serving as the highest-ranking midshipman this semester, Krause keeps herself busy as a member of the USNA Gospel Choir and as a high jumper on the Women’s Track Team. Her younger sister, Victoria, is a member of the Class of 2018, currently studying abroad in Spain.