Senior Spotlight: Kevin Zhu

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MIDN 1/C Kevin Zhu

Hometown: Boston, MA

School: Harvard University

Major: Visual and Environmental Studies

Service Selection: Marines

What motivated you to become a Marine?

As a kid who didn’t have any direction and wanted to do more, the military seemed like a good option. I wanted to give back and the military was how to do it. The USMC has a legend behind it and it was something I wanted to be a part of. Also, they have a great marketing campaign! 

 

Any words of wisdom for the MIDN currently preparing for OCS? 

Take it as a learning experience. There’s this perception that it’s all mental and a type of screening process, which is partly true. But if you go in with a positive attitude and take it as a learning experience, you can maintain that positivity throughout the process. Don’t go in not wanting to drop, go in trying to excel. 

 

Your next step is TBS (The Basic School), do you have any trajectory mapped out career-wise, Marine Corps and Beyond?

I want to keep an open mind going into TBS, MOS wise at least. I want to take it as a learning experience and get to speak to some officers from various MOS’s. After the Marine Corps I think I want to go to graduate school for art and architecture or design. Again, I’m leaving things pretty open ended.

 

Any chance of you becoming an artist?

Yeah, if I go the MFA (Master of Fine Arts) route. If I decide I’m going to do it then I’m going to do it. Commit 100 percent. 

 

A decade from now, what do you think you’ll remember most about your time in NROTC?

Midshipman Michael Paul Haley.

 

What are you most excited for after commissioning?

Going to TBS and learning actual technical skills to make me a competent leader. And I guess getting paid will be a nice perk.

 

How do you spend most of your time outside of ROTC? 

Art stuff and art classes. If I’ll be honest I read a lot of books, I work out, and I watch south park. 

 

Who’s your biggest inspiration? 

Midshipman Michael Paul Haley’s dad, Captain Paul Haley. Aka, “The Colonel”.

 

If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?

Lightning speed like the flash, only my eyebrows and clothing don’t burn off (resistant to friction).

 

Any funny ROTC stories? 

I once had a conversation with Gunnery Sgt. Askew about why my name wasn’t spelled Zu, but with a long line over the u. 

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Hail to LT Goodwin

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LT Alexander J Goodwin hails from Southbury, Connecticut. He entered the Navy at age 20, enlisting in 2008 and attending nuclear power training command in Goose Creek, South Carolina. While attending Electronics Technician A School for six months, Goodwin applied into the Seaman to Admiral program and was quickly accepted.

LT Goodwin went on to Newport, RI for officer training at the Naval Science Institute, and enrolled directly from there at the Citadel in Charleston, SC. Finishing his degree in an impressive three years, and making E-5 while at school, LT Goodwin divided his time in college between studying for his Civil Engineering Degree and volunteering at the Patriot’s Point Museum.

In May of 2013, Goodwin commissioned as one the nation’s top surface warfare selects and chose a pre-commissioning ship, LPD 25 – the Somerset – for his first SWO tour. LT Goodwin offered some advice to future SWO’s to consider carefully in choosing a pre-com for a first ship, stating: “There’s no precedent set for you yet. Every time a new ship comes around, a lot gets re-invented, there’s a different culture for each ship.”

Eventually the Somerset made it out of the shipyard in Avondale, LA, sailed down the Mississippi River, up the Delaware and eventually made its way to San Diego where it is now based.  LT Goodwin served a three-year tour with the Somerset, leading the Deck Department, which handled small boats, lines, paint preservation and amphibious operations aboard the Amphib.

From the Somerset, LT Goodwin transitioned to an LHD – the Makin Island – where he soon deployed out of San Diego for another seven months, stopping at ports from Hong Kong and Singapore, to Bahrain and Dubai. In his second tour, LT Goodwin qualified as Engineering Officer of the Watch and stood as EOOW for the last few months of the deployment.

At the MIT Unit, LT Goodwin will take over as our resident Surface Warfare Officer. He will teach Navigation and Naval Operations, serve as advisor for sophomores and juniors, and run drug testing and summer cruise coordination. He will also be pursuing a Masters in Systems Design at MIT, a management and engineering degree.

LT Goodwin is excited to come here to teach. He explained, “I was interested in instructor duty. The job here required intense vetting. All staff has to provide letters of recommendation, their full college transcripts and needs approval from MIT faculty.”

In his free time, LT Goodwin enjoys working out. He also builds computers, plays video games and reads. He aspires to eventually work in the space field.

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

General Born Talk

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On 21 March 2018, the midshipmen of the Boston NROTC Consortium were visited by the distinguished Brigadier General and former Dean of the Air Force Academy, Dana H. Born (USAF Retired). Currently the Co-Director of the Harvard Kennedy School Center for Public Leadership and a member of the Council on foreign Relations, was able to articulate complex and innovative ways of thinking about leadership.

General Born surprised many midshipmen by being vulnerable and honest about her transformative experiences and challenges throughout her life that define her leadership style today. This vulnerability, General Born expressed, was essential to developing authentic leadership—the creation of which is no easy task. First and foremost, one must be able to clearly analyze their own way of life to learn who they truly are. Comparing one’s authentic self with the image they project in positions of leadership then calls for the sacrificing of actions or life styles which are detrimental to the true self. Acknowledging these shortcomings and this vulnerability takes courage.

In highly competitive environments, both from within the chain of command and at Harvard, General Born has found that the key to being an effective leader is being an authentic leader rather than a conforming leader. It is easy to chase a persona or style of leadership dishonest to our true selves in competitive environments to fit in with our peers or meet the expectations of a preconceived notion of the quintessential leader. Whether we acknowledge it or not, at some point along our formation all of us may experience the allure of inauthentic leadership, and General Born’s session and the reflective exercises that accompanied it have given the Battalion the skills to effectively engage these questions now and during our service as naval officers.

General Born followed up her talk with the entire battalion with a breakout session with the female midshipmen. This took the form of an informal question-answer discussion in which she was able to share even more about her own experience with the military and how it has affected her personal life. Since the chance to hear from such a high-ranking female leader is so rare, it was a fantastic opportunity for the female midshipmen in the battalion to hear from someone who has had such a successful career be willing to talk about anything they asked. We look forward to following in General Born’s footsteps as we go on to enter the fleet.

Written by MIDN 4/C Barry and MIDN 1/C Lennert

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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Senior Spotlight: Nicholas Hebert

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MIDN 1/C Nicholas Hebert

Hometown: Honolulu, Hawaii

School: Boston University

Major: Physics

Service Selection: SWO EDO

Written by MIDN 4/C Acker

 

Why did you join ROTC?

“I went to music school before I came here and I realized I wasn’t spectacular at music. I also kind of realized I wanted to do something more beneficial to society. Since my dad was a doctor in the Navy, his grandfather was a mechanic in WWII, my great uncle was a SEAL, my other uncle was a marine, it just made the most sense to go the Navy route.”

 

Why did you select SWO EDO?

“I bounced around among a lot of things. When I first came, I wanted to do SEALs, but found out I couldn’t because my eyesight wasn’t good enough and my PST scores weren’t spectacular. So I said I wanted to do subs, and went on sub cruise, but it was the worst experience of my life. I still wanted the technical aspect of it, so I thought SWO Nuke. I went on my SWO Nuke cruise, which I loved, but everything the SWO Nukes were doing was basically just submarine things. We had an EDO Diver come talk to us, and at the time I was considering other options, but realized [SWO EDO] actually sounded really cool. I didn’t expect to get it because it’s hard to get and EDO is pretty selective. I want to be able to do as many things as possible and after a while be able to start a family.”

 

What has been your most meaningful billet?

“Probably platoon commander. It’s a lot of work, it’s pretty hard, but I think you learn the most about what your job is going to be in the future and how to lead people. You learn more about yourself and your personal leadership style than in any other billet you’re going to get.”

 

What was the moment that was most worrisome for you in ROTC?

“After spring semester of sophomore year I was on academic probation. Obviously that’s a problem because if my grades didn’t improve I’d get a PRB, I could possibly be transferred out of the program, and I possibly would’ve owed a lot of money.”

 

What’s something you’ve learned outside of ROTC?

“Seeking help when you need it. It’s really, really important. I didn’t do that for a lot of my physics career and it ended up hurting me. I ended up going on academic probation because I never went to tutoring or office hours because I thought I was good enough to figure it out. You’re not always good enough to figure it out, so just ask people about things that you don’t know. It’s probably the most important thing; you’re not going to look any better by pretending that you know something. So, if you don’t know something, just ask. Someone will tell you, and they probably won’t judge.”

 

Favorite ROTC moment?

“I guess when I did the iron man a couple years back with MIDN Keohane, that was fun. It was fun getting cheered on by all the Marines. It was also really hard, and we got third, so we were proud that we managed to beat all of Air Force.”

 

Outside of ROTC, how do you spend your time?

“Study a lot, take naps when I can. I like to hang out with my girlfriend and I still do music, so just playing music with friends and then playing video games and watching TV if I have white space.”

 

What are some leadership keys?

“First it’s crucial that you figure out yourself first. You need to be totally confident in yourself and your skills before you can be expected to lead others. Then you need to be aware of your people; you need to know their strengths, weaknesses, and motivations so you can help them improve and succeed. In a good organization, the success of the individuals directly corresponds to the success of the group, and everyone has the right to be happy and enjoy success in their job.”

 

Any advice for underclassmen?

“Time management is probably the biggest thing you have to learn as an underclassman. Even a lot of graduates struggle with it. It’s something that sounds easy but in reality is not, but if you can master it you’re set up for success in college and beyond.”

 

Who is someone you look to for inspiration and why?

“Admiral McRaven, he was a SEAL. He did ROTC at the University of Texas, and getting from ROTC to SEALs is pretty difficult. Everything I’ve read about him and everything people have said about him, he’s just a leader that you really want to aspire to. He’s super calm, super professional, and I think another one of the big things is he’s supported everybody in his command. He never threw anybody under the bus and everyone really admired him. “

 

 

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