Commencement On the Rise
A Midshipman shares her experiences at the USNA
A few weeks ago, I walked back from a friend's room in a sullen daze, not unlike a lot of the worn out nights I've had since coming to the United States Naval Academy.
My time here is abruptly coming to an end. My classmates and I will walk across the stage with a document of our accomplishment, stating our graduation. However, it is so much more than a piece of paper. Our graduation is not the end; it is the beginning. Our commissioning symbolizes the vast amount of days we have spent working to better ourselves and each other. I am starting to get anxious about leaving my friends as we depart to all of the corners of the world because they have become my brothers and sisters over the course of the last five years.
About five years ago I began my experience as an enlisted sailor and was accepted into the Naval Academy Preparatory school (NAPS) and have been on an exciting adventure toward my commissioning ever since. NAPS prepared me mentally and physically for the rigors of the Academy, but it also granted me an amazing support group of other friends who were in the same position as I was. We walked into I-Day at USNA as a small army of kids who were ready to succeed but still had a lot of development to achieve.
USNA is not a college. It transcends the average four-year experience by encapsulating character development and mental conditioning. It is difficult and there were plenty of days where I wanted to quit, but I had a solid support group of classmates pushing me in the other direction. Looking back on my 19 year old self before this journey, I was a product of my generation: somewhat selfish, arrogant and very independent. I walked into the Academy with some of those characteristics still looming around, even after my time as an enlisted Sailor. I was not ready to lead people. The past four years I have experienced unparalleled mentorship and development from some of the best leaders I have met in my entire life. Through this process, I've learned that there are things in life that are best accomplished with the help of others.