One Navy Team
He jumped down from the tree, bare feet crunching on the dense bed of jungle foliage, his young hands gripping freshly-picked fruit. He darted deeper through the deep green layers of trees to find water - a part of his morning routine. For a child growing up in the rural countryside of Trinidad, this was nothing out of the ordinary.
Years later, and thousands of miles away, his morning routine has changed drastically. Instead of foraging for food, he buys it from a store; instead of hiking long distances for water, he drinks it from a tap; and instead of walking barefoot, he slips on a pair of U.S. Navy-issued boots.
To say that Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Danian Douglas had a unique path to joining the Navy would be an understatement.
"I'm 'Trini' to the bone," laughed Douglas, joking about his faint Trinidadian accent.
Growing up, Douglas lived in Manzanilla, Trinidad, a rural area near the coast, where he enjoyed a simple life with his family. Eventually, he wanted to experience new things and moved to the country's capital city, Port-of-Spain, where he went to school and developed a love for playing soccer.
His love of soccer took him to an even bigger city. He decided to immigrate to the United States for college, and ended up in New York City.
"It was a little bit of a culture shock," said Douglas. "I didn't see as many trees as I was accustomed to - it was just a big city."
After graduating from college and working in the city for a few years, Douglas began to dream about a new goal. He wanted to use his background and past experiences, tell stories and show people new perspectives through documentary filmmaking.
"I'd like to travel the world, to find communities that are disadvantaged and need help, and helping them raise awareness to what they need," he said.
Since he had no background in filmmaking or video, he knew he needed to find a way to get experience and learn the business.
That's when he discovered the U.S. Navy's mass communication program, an enlistment opportunity that would teach him the skills he needed to one day begin making the films he wanted to make.
"Having a hard work ethic from Trinidad helped me cope as a deck seaman," said Douglas. "It was manual labor and it was really hard, but I was able to cope well."
Unfortunately, he discovered that because he was not a U.S. citizen, he was ineligible for the program. He would need to enlist as an undesignated seaman first. While that meant years of hard, manual labor up front, Douglas knew his past growing up in the jungles of Trinidad would help him cope with the challenge.
"The U.S. Navy is helping me accomplish my goals," said Douglas.
After completing his time as a seaman and getting his citizenship, Douglas struck into the mass communication specialist field, and went through training to learn the rate. He currently works at the Defense Media Activity, producing videos about other Sailors around the fleet, and honing his skills to get ready for his ultimate goal of becoming a filmmaker.