Category Archives: Senior Spotlights

Senior Spotlight: Jacob Holmes

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MIDN 1/C Jacob Holmes

Hometown: Watertown, CT

School: Boston University

Major: Mechanical Engineering

Service: Surface Warfare – Engineering Duty Officer

Written by MIDN 4/C Bab

 

Why did you want to join the Navy?

The tradition of service in my family must be carried on.

 

What has been your most meaningful Billet?

The most meaningful was definitely Mustering Petty Officer. I was essentially a CPO but for platoon commanders. It was a great way to really dive into leadership.

 

What has been your favorite school project you have worked on at BU?

My Capstone Project, which I am working on with MIDN Gozdur and MIDN Dwyer. We are consulting for Rolls-Royce in their manufacturing process.

 

What would you say are the keys to successful leadership?

Be yourself. If you aren’t authentic, your people will realize and lose respect for you.  Also, remember that you’re not your sailors’ friend. Keep It professional. Finally, learn from your mistakes and don’t take professional criticism personally.

 

Do you have any funny ROTC mistakes?

My freshman year there was a guest speaker at lab that I was asked to take photos of. However, I was not given a camera nor was anyone informed that I would be doing it outside of the midshipman who was running the blog. I therefore pulled out my phone and proceeded to go and take pictures. Upon doing this, I was yelled at by the CPO and had to awkwardly explain myself in front of the company and unit staff.

 

How do you spend your free time?

I am involved in one of the fraternities at BU. I also enjoy being an amateur bodybuilder. Finally, I play videogames and even participated on the BU Hearthstone Team with reasonable success.

 

Any advice for MIDN outside of ROTC?

Don’t stress over exams. You either know it or you don’t.

 

What are you most excited for after commissioning?

I am excited to deploy to MCM 6, the USS Devastator in Bahrain.

 

What is your favorite song?

You Make Me Like Charity, by The Knife.

 

Favorite part of BU?

The top notch engineering facilities.

 

What has been the most rewarding part of ROTC?

Giving me structure in my moral growth.

 

What will be your favorite memory from ROTC?

Participating in the Levi Challenge up in Norwich University my freshman year.

 

What was your favorite cruise?

My first class SWO cruise. It was an invaluable learning experience.

 

What are you going to miss the most?

The relaxing days in college where you could sleep in until noon and not start homework until 22:00.

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Senior Spotlight: Chandler Dwyer

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MIDN 1/C Chandler Dwyer

Hometown: Shamong, NJ

School: Boston University

Degree: Mechanical Engineering

Service selected: Pilot

Written by MIDN 3/C Ofer

 

What has been your most meaningful billet?

I most enjoyed being platoon commander.  Mainly because the leadership is real.  It is the first time you are responsible for a group of MIDN.  Helping underclassmen get the hang of ROTC and seeing them succeed was the most rewarding part for me.

 

What are some keys to leadership?

Listening to the people below you to actually figure out what they are communicating to you.  Empathy and caring are really important, as well as being able to put yourself in the shoes of the people below you.  All of these things will help make you more effective.

 

What advice you would give to underclassmen?

Volunteer for anything new or interesting.  “Don’t knock it till you try it”

 

Why did you join?

I joined because I really wanted to do something that was meaningful in my life.  There is also a strong tradition in my family.

 

Fun ROTC story

Favorite story is from INDOC, when then MIDN 1/C Paul Kim convinced us that Taylor Swift had died.  As 4/C, we believed him.  We didn’t find out till the end of the week that he was just messing with us and it gave us all something to laugh about at the end of the day.

 

How do you spend your time outside of ROTC?

I like to read, hang out with my friends/girlfriend, play video games, and play racquetball.

 

Why did you select Aviation?

I really just wanna go fast.  I like their missions along with the lifestyle.

 

What do you think the most rewarding part of ROTC has been?

Being a positive influence on the MIDN that you lead and seeing them improve over the semester.  It makes the hard parts of leadership worth it.

 

What are you going to miss?

I’m going to miss Boston and the close friendships I have made in the battalion.

 

What do you look forward to most in your career?

I’m looking forward to positively impacting the sailors I am going to lead.

Senior Spotlight: Benjamin Brewer

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MIDN 1/C Benjamin Brewer  

Hometown: San Diego, California

School: Boston College

Major: Economics

Service Selection: Marine Corps

Written by MIDN 2/C Singley

 

Why did you want to join the Marine Corps?

I could never imagine myself sitting behind a desk from 9am-5pm after graduation. I wanted to go out and do something meaningful, ideally with physical activity involved… and obviously the Marine Corps perfectly fits the bill. I chose the Marines because I wanted to be with the best. I’m extremely competitive and I enjoy how everything in the Marine Corps is a competition, making yourself and those around you better.   

 

What has been your most meaningful billet?

Battalion Commander. It is a privilege to lead midshipmen. The effort and enthusiasm they bring everyday is great. I am honored to help from them into leaders.

 

Do you have any keys to leadership?

Industriousness and enthusiasm. Industriousness behind the scenes…working out, reading sitreps and taking notes, attending as many events as possible, commanding BattStaff, etc. Enthusiasm in front of the battalion. If I bring enthusiasm to everything I do then it will trickle down into the ranks of the midshipmen. If I show up to PT tired, the midshipmen will see that and it will have negative effects. I have to be enthusiastic in my billet at all times or I am only hurting the battalion.

 

Any advice for the underclassmen?

Be a professional at all times. As future officers, your professionalism should never be in question. Appearance is reality. If you look sloppy, out of shape, etc, your leadership will be less powerful.

 

Any funny NROTC mistakes?

At OCS I once rolled my sleeves so badly the a Sergeant Instructor told me, “It looks like Helen Keller rolled them with her mouth.”

 

Outside of Drill PT, how do you spend your time?

There is nothing for me outside of drill PT. Drill PT is life.

 

Is there anything in particular you’ve learned at school outside of NROTC you’d like to share?

Social interactions make college worthwhile so don’t neglect your social life. You need to have balance in all things, otherwise you will become burnt out and miserable.

 

What are you most excited for after commissioning?

TBS with my peers. I am excited to do tactics and shooting, along with spending time with other 2nd Lieutenants. I am also excited for this summer in Boston.

 

Weird obsession, favorite celebrity?

Tom Hardy. He is the man. Specifically in the movie ‘Warrior’.

 

Favorite Song?

Marine’s Hymn, oorah.

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Senior Spotlight: Steven LaDine

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MIDN 1/C Steven LaDine

Hometown: Whitinsville, MA

School: Boston University

Major: Business Management & Admin

Concentrations: Organizational Behavior, Operations and Technology Management

Service: Marines (Maybe Logistics MOS)

 

Describe your childhood:

My childhood was very free range. As a kid I spent a lot of my time outside with my brother and sisters and parents.

 

Why the Marines? Do you see yourself doing 4 years, or 30?

Of course the main reason is the standard cliché: I want to serve my country. I didn’t have any prior contact with the military before ROTC through family or anything. The way I see it, I am of able body, able mind, and able spirit, so it is my duty to get out there and serve the nation I love.

 

What is the most important lesson you have learned since joining the Naval ROTC?

I don’t know about any one big lesson; it was more of a lot of little lessons. In ROTC, the military and life in general, one of the most important things you can do is know yourself and seek self- improvement. Always strive to be better and set goals for yourself. But as a leader, it’s no longer just about you. It’s about the team. As a leader, your job is to ensure that the whole team is growing and developing with your mentoring and guidance. Ideally, these things should be complementary. If your team is improving, you should be too. For example, take this past semester’s emphasis on drill. MIDN Brewer, MIDN Coughlin, and I have been instructing the battalion in drill: sound off, do it again, fix it, repeat. I know that to the midshipmen it seems like I’m being picky or harsh, but teaching drill has forced us to learn it more proficiently ourselves as well. It’s a learning experience for everyone.

 

Do you have a role model?

Gunnery Sergeant Askew has been my role model throughout ROTC over the past 4 years. There were times when I doubted how badly I wanted to pursue this, but GySgt Askew would always energize me and make me more enthusiastic. Aside from his dedication to the Corps, exceptional bearing, and intimidating physical ability, GySgt Askew was the definition of selflessness. He could always make time for me or another Midshipman in his day—personal time on weekend mornings or late weeknights included.

 

Do you have a favorite thing about Boston? Any hidden gems?

I will miss running up Summit Ave. and along the Charles river.

 

What do you do in your spare time?

There’s no such thing.

 

What would be your first question after waking up from being cryogenically frozen for 100 years?

I would want to know how America is doing… Whether or not the Constitution was still intact.

 

Tell us about your study abroad experience.

I studied in Sydney, Australia the fall of my Senior year. I flew out just two days after graduating OCS. I turned twenty-one in transit right as we crossed the international date line, so I never actually had a twenty-first birthday. It was immediate culture shock, but a fantastic opportunity. I had a blast and it was a great break from regular college life and ROTC obligations.

 

Is there any wisdom that you want to pass on? Something you wished MIDN 4/C LaDine had known?

Take advantage of all of the parts of college life that won’t be around when you graduate. You’ll always have a gym, you’ll always be able to lay around on your couch and watch TV. But what you won’t have is the chance to talk to professors and students from all over the world. There are so many extracurricular opportunities to learn and experience new things that just don’t exist outside of a college campus. Famous guest lecturers come and speak on very niche topics, and you can find a club for just about any activity that exists. In the real world, this is the type of stuff that people would drive hours and pay good money to experience. Don’t box yourself in. Don’t waste weekends holed up in your dorm room nursing the after effects of a night out when you could be out enjoying life.

 

CONCLUSION:

Soon to be 2nd Lt. LaDine will soon be saying his good-bye to this battalion this May. He brings incredible dedication and competence to the fight, and any future command will be lucky to have him. Although his absence will leave a void, he has passed on his wisdom through his mentoring, and imbued his subordinates with the grit needed to succeed. The time has come for him to pass the torch.

Senior Spotlight: Laura Palomo

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MIDN 1/C Laura Palomo

Hometown: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

School: Boston University

Major: Molecular Genetics/Muslim Societies

Service Selection: Pilot

Written by MIDN 4/C Kim

 

What’s a fun fact about you?

I backpacked around Europe by myself.

 

I know you’ve mentioned aerial dance a few times.  Is there anything else you do in your free time?

I belly dance and I draw.

 

What brought you into ROTC?

My father was in the Navy and my mother worked in the Navy.  It was a great way to achieve my goal of commissioning while still having as much of a college experience as I could.  It’s the best of both worlds.

 

So I’m guessing you chose the Navy mostly because of your parents?

Yeah, and they have the most diverse skill set.  You can do the most from the Navy and they really are globally deployed.  In the Army you won’t go to nearly as many places or see as many things as you will in the Navy.  It’s really like: join the Navy, see the world.  And one of our biggest missions is humanitarian aid, which I think is really important.

 

Did you go into ROTC with pilot set in mind?

No, I changed like two days before my service selection was due.  I came in saying I wasn’t going to fly because my father flew, so I was like “I’m not going to be like my father.  Let me do my own thing.”  I wanted SWO for a long time.  Then I was thinking NFO.  I initially submitted NFO, SWO, and pilot third for my service selection.  Then I went on a cruise with a helo squadron and only pilots can fly helos so i just gut-changed and said “go with it.”  Sometimes you just have to roll the dice.

 

What are you looking forward to most in the coming years?

Joining the fleet.  It’s like you’re biting the bit.  You’re like “I just want to get into the fleet, I just want to get into the fleet.”  I’ve learned about this for four years, I’ve been training for four years.  I want to get out there and do my job.

 

Is there anything specifically that you are looking forward to in the fleet?

Flight school and the beach.  And learning how to fly, obviously.  And seeing my friends from the units all over the country.  You’ll make a lot of really good friends on cruises and stuff like that and I have friends from high school who are in ROTC and I’m really excited to see them again.

 

What has been your most meaningful billet or favorite billet?

Definitely platoon commander.  I don’t know if I’ve told you, but this is the billet I’ve always wanted when I was a freshman; this is the billet I wanted last semester; this is the billet I wanted when I was a junior and now I finally got it.  You have the most direct connection with your platoon and you can actually see people grow.  You can actually get to talk to people and make connections, which is what I really enjoy.

 

Is there anyone from the Navy that has impacted you a lot?

Definitely my running mate and my division in my second class cruise.  [Cruise] was where I realized we’re doing something really important and we can really affect people’s lives outside of the mission set and help people achieve their goals.  I still keep in contact with them today and I learned so much from them and respect them so much.  It’s great knowing that those are the quality of people that you’re going to be working with in the fleet.

 

How would you describe your leadership style?

I’m definitely less professional.  I value social interaction; talking face to face is always better.  I value practice doing things over just getting a brief.  That’s why I tried to plan the public speaking exercise and the Ted talk where we had the discussion and why I shared my story.  It’s easy to see things as unrelatable, but if you can bring it down to people’s levels, things always seem to work out better.  Definitely more hands-on and interactive, less strict leadership style.  I find that my strengths lie in personal interactions with people and if I maintain a hard, very professional, rigid, unapproachable demeanor, that’s not where I shine.  My strengths can’t flourish in that environment.

 

Do you have any tips regarding leadership?

You do you.  Leadership is truly a “you” thing.  You have to learn what makes you comfortable.  You have to learn how you lead and your personality.  That’s where everyone’s different personalities come through.  The worst leaders are the ones who try to pretend to be something they’re not.  You have to learn to lead in your own way and be effective.

 

Do you have any tips for underclassmen or future Midshipmen?

You will survive.  I know it doesn’t seem like it at all times, but you just have to dig your heels in when it gets really bad. Those types of semesters will pass.  You learn how to not just be like “I’m going to get through this really hard week.”  You learn how to be like “I’m going to get through these really hard nine months.”  You learn how to deal with that.  You will get through.

 

Do you have any funny stories from your ROTC career?

Our seniors were our platoon commanders and our platoon guides and they were given basically complete freedom to do with us as they will.  It involved a lot of hardline yelling at us, but messing with us as well.  We were at NSO on base when the first American was beheaded by ISIS.  So we all form up in the morning and Platoon Commander Kim, a very large, angry guy, came and he was telling us that this had happened.  He also told us at the same time that Taylor Swift had overdosed on heroin and died.  We all believed him.  So we go into the chow hall and it’s all over the news that an American has been beheaded by ISIS.  We didn’t think that he would put those together and lie about that so for about a solid week and a half we were under the impression that Taylor Swift had overdosed and died on heroin.

 

Do you have any favorite memories from ROTC?

When you go on cruise with the people in your class, it’s great seeing everyone fall in love with what they’re doing.  In ROTC, especially within the first year, you can definitely be very much like “I don’t know if I want to do this anymore, I don’t know if I believe in this, what is this?” because ROTC is so different from the fleet.  It’s so cool going to cruise and watching everyone who you’re friends with re-fall in love with the Navy.

Senior Spotlight: Peter Kellner

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MIDN 1/C Peter Kellner

Hometown: Charlotte, Vermont

School: Boston University

Degree: International Relations

Service Selected: Marine Corps

Written by MIDN 3/C McGunigle

 

Why did you want to join the Marine Corps?

I find a new reason every day, really. I went to a military camp when I was in high school, and a lot of the instructors were Marine option midshipmen in NROTC. They seemed to embody the ideals of discipline and leadership, and I wanted to be just like them. Ever since then I have been interested in the Marine Corps, with its warrior mentality and hardness in mind and spirit.

 

What has been your most meaningful billet in ROTC?

That would definitely have to be platoon commander. I get to have face time with the platoon almost every day and share the things that I have learned over the past four years. I feel like I have a direct impact on the possible success or failure of the midshipmen in my platoon, and that motivates me to always be on top of my game. I have learned a lot about myself while holding this billet, because it is challenging, but it is also very rewarding.

 

What would you say is your leadership philosophy?

Be a good guy. Be someone that people actually want to talk to and aren’t afraid of. But never ever let your people think that you will accept mediocrity.

 

What is the most important lesson you have learned while in ROTC?

Delegate. Don’t ever think that you have to go it alone. I learned that while organizing the Sheehan Cup, and admittedly I kind of forgot it when I went abroad. Make sure you ask the right questions, and then delegate accordingly. Just remember, you can delegate roles, but you can never delegate responsibility.

 

What advice do you have for younger midshipmen?

Put yourself into uncomfortable situations. Speak up at lab, volunteer, and don’t be afraid to ask a question just because you are worried about looking stupid. Fail in ROTC as much as you can so that you can learn as much as you can. Don’t be afraid of failure, because no matter who you are you can always improve and keep honing your leadership skills.

 

Funny ROTC story

My freshman year I biked to MIT with my sea bag on my back with a glow belt wrapped around it. I don’t know if that’s funny but it’s a classic 4/c move.

 

Hobbies

Crossfit and lifting

Senior Spotlight: Garrett Gozdur

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MIDN 1/C Garrett Gozdur

Hometown: Huntsville, Alabama

School: Boston University

Major: Mechanical Engineering

Service Selection: Submarine Officer

Written by: MIDN 3/C Pilepich

 

Why did you join the Navy?

My dad was in the Army, my grandfather was in the Navy, I have an uncle in the Air Force… so there has always been a military tradition. But, my dad didn’t want me to go into the Army, and I’ve always loved being by the water. So, the Navy seemed like an obvious choice.

 

What do you bring to the Navy?

From being an Engineering major, you get the engineering background so you understand a lot about how either your plane, or your ship, or your submarine works. I bring that technical ability in addition to experience from the jobs I worked before (maintenance, working on engines, working in a shipyard). I definitely bring a technical aspect that a lot of people don’t have.

 

What advice would you give to underclassmen?

Relax. Don’t take yourself too seriously. When I was a freshman I was always worried about messing up; I’d stress about things way more than I should have. Learn to relax and do your best. 99% of the time that will be more than enough.

 

How do you spend your time outside of ROTC?

Mostly with engineering. When I’m not doing either of those two, I’m relaxing and hanging out with friends.

 

What are you most excited about after commissioning?

Finally having these four years of training go into effect and actually being an officer. Hopefully I’m here for a little bit after commissioning so I can enjoy Boston for a little longer.

 

What is one fun fact or good story about you?

I’m restoring a 1989 Jeep Wrangler that I used to go off-roading with. One time I’m on a trail going up a very steep incline. The Jeep is a manual so I have to shift on the incline. We go around this huge crater and as soon as we get above it, the engine stalls and we start rolling back down. So I have to restart it as we are rolling backwards around this crater so we don’t slide in and flip. So… that was fun.

 

Did you play any sports?

In high school I played football but my main sport was sailing. I was the youngest one in the sailing club by 30 or 40 years but I won a lot of races and some of the older guys were not happy they were beat by a 14-15 year old.

 

What is your passion in life?

Figuring out how things work. It’s kinda why I’m an engineer. From when I was little I’d always ask my mom, how does that work, what is that thing?

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