The Academy Insider Your Guide to The United States Naval Academy

#012 - Life of a Surface Warfare Junior Officer (SWO) with Guest Teresa Meadows '16

October 08, 2019 GRANT VERMEER / TERESA MEADOWS Season 1 Episode 12
The Academy Insider Your Guide to The United States Naval Academy
#012 - Life of a Surface Warfare Junior Officer (SWO) with Guest Teresa Meadows '16
Show Notes Transcript

Life of a Surface Warfare Junior Officer (SWO) with Guest Teresa Meadows '16

I'm joined by Teresa Meadows who is a class of 16 graduate from the United States Naval Academy and currently serves as a surface warfare officer. Teresa was in 28th company and a history major.

In this episode, we talk about how she ended up as a surface warfare officer as well as what are the next steps for surface warfare officers after graduation.

So we cover topics such as BDOC, the basic division officer course, as well as checking into a ship, integrating with the division and basically just understanding the life of a junior officer on board a ship. You'll learn a lot about what life is actually like for SWOs once they check onto a ship.

She shares her story about ship selection night and getting qualified as a SWO on deployment.  She is now on a staff and living in Rota, Spain.  She has now traveled to eighteen countries.

You can follow Teresa's travel adventures at @t_by.the.sea on Instagram.

Be sure to review and subscribe to The Academy Insider with Grant Vermeer podcast on Apple Podcasts or where you listen to podcasts.

Follow the Academy Insider on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

Links Mentioned in the Show

Teresa's Book Recommendation

Silence - If you want to order a copy go to the Academy Insider Amazon store at https://www.amazon.com/shop/academyinsider.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Speaker 1:

This is your host Grant Vermeer Naval Academy class of 2017 and I'm your Academy insider. It's my goal to be your guide through the Naval Academy experience by sharing my stories and providing you insight information into the life of a midshipman.

Speaker 2:

[inaudible]

Speaker 1:

Academy insider is in no way officially affiliated with the United States Naval Academy. All of the content on Academy insider is my own and does not reflect the views of the United States Naval Academy, the United States Navy, nor the department of defense. Hey everyone and welcome to the Academy insider podcast. Today I'm joined by Teresa Meadows who is a class of 16 graduate from the United States Naval Academy and currently serves as a surface warfare officer. In this episode we talked about how she ended up as a surface warfare officer as well as what are the next steps for surface warfare officers after graduation. So we cover topics such as BDOC, the basic division officer course, as well as checking into a ship, integrating with the division and basically just understanding the life of a junior officer onboard a ship. I think this is going to be a tremendously entertaining episode for all of you, and I think you'll learn a lot about what life is actually like for SWOs once they check onto a ship. So be sure to check this out and I hope you guys enjoyed the episode. Thanks. All right, well, uh, Hey, thanks T so much for being a part of the Academy insider podcast. Really appreciate it. Before we get started and talking about kind of the life of a surface warfare officer, if you don't mind telling the audience a little bit about yourself, so a little bit about you at the Academy, so your company, your major, and then a little bit of background about you as a midshipman, but then also where you're from and what brought you to the Naval Academy.

Speaker 3:

All right, so, hi. I did go by T. um, I was a graduate of the class of 2016 and I was in 28th company and I actually ended up majoring in history. I never was really on a sports team. I just always participated in intramurals, but me and my roommate got into training for marathon. So that was kind of something that we, we started doing and we, uh, did a few of those. Um, yeah. And then, uh, some from long beach, Mississippi, it's pretty small town on the Mississippi Gulf coast. I would say primarily my call to service. And what brought me to the Academy was the military was always just a part of our family. So my older brothers were enlisted. My dad is actually still actively serving as a warrant officer five. And so it was just kind of something, I always knew that the more really young age that I wanted to do, but I knew I wanted to get an education and still do the military thing. So I kind of was immediately drawn towards the Academy when you get both the military and the college in one whole package deal. So yeah, it's just from a really early age, I just kind of knew this, what I wanted to do.

Speaker 1:

Oh, awesome. And then when you, uh, when you came to the Academy, so for everyone who doesn't know you are a warfare officer, did you always know that you wanted to be a SWOT or what kind of influenced you to choose surface warfare as a service selection?

Speaker 3:

So my, yeah, it's, it's a little bit unconventional. I actually never thought that I was going to be a swell. So my whole time at the Academy never really paid attention to the slow stuff. Never thought I was going to be a slow, never wanted it to be a swell, but I actually ended up being medically disqualified from pretty much all of the other communities. And so like a week prior to service selection, I got told slow is my only option. And so I basically took my only option and at the time I really didn't really didn't know the amazing things that would come of it. But um, yeah, it was never really something I had my eyes set on and it's just what ended up happening and it's been, it's been really great.

Speaker 1:

Interesting. So what did you want to serve as select then before all of that happened? Kind of what, what were you most interested in?

Speaker 3:

So I think I was all over the place, but I think the one that held my attention for a minute was being a Hilo pilot. But then my measurements were too short for things. And then I was pretty dead set on supply. But then I went from restricted line back to line. So yeah, I was really all over the place. I don't really think I ever had like a solidified thing of what I truly wanted to do. I was trying to figure it all out, but I'm kinda glad they, they forced me to pick something.

Speaker 1:

Absolutely. And so for everyone who is listening, when she said yeah, like my measurements were all weird. So that's like a thing that we'll talk about later when we talk with pilots about kind of the pre-commissioning stuff. But they very legitimately take really weird measurements. Like the distance between like your knee and your hip and like you're camping, you're like length of your torso for a bunch of different reasons about like fitting into cockpits and different things like that. But there are a lot of weird measurements that go into determining whether or not you are actually eligible to commission as a pilot. So that's really interesting that you kind of had to experience that. Um, but uh, so once you, once you found out that you really had to be a swell, honestly at that point it really was like, well you have to be a SWOT. And were there any mentors that you found, whether they were either senior enlisted or officers that made you think that Hey, maybe SWOT is going to be okay?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, for sure. I mean, once you kind of get, you know, selected for the service you're going to do, you get all kinds of mentors kind of thrown at you, Ontario or whatever. And yeah, I mean my company SCL was NFC, so he was on ships and he was able to really, really talk to me about like what I was going to be like to keep my head up type thing. And it definitely was very positive reinforcement and then also going through practicum and some of the other, the other things you get introduced to as what you'll be expecting as a SWOT. I think that, and then also being around some of your classmates that are going to go do the same thing. That in itself, that was kind of like peer mentorship, if that makes sense. But yeah, I mean there, there were a number of individuals[inaudible] were slows who definitely helped bring light to the situation and make it seem a lot, well let it be known that it would be more exciting than what I thought it might be when I first got told that's what I would do.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, absolutely. And so one of the first things that happens in that first thing, but once you find out that you're going to be a swell, their ships election night. So if you don't mind telling us a little bit about how your sub ship selection night went for you, like what kind of ship you wanted, where did you want to go? Like what were all the factors that you were considering when you were deciding whether or not, or at why, which ship to pick?

Speaker 3:

Oh my gosh, ship's selection as one of the most stressful nights of my life. I'm not even kidding. So I was in the top half of the class, so there was roughly I think around a hundred people picking before me. And I knew for a fact that I wanted to be stationed in Hawaii for my first tour more than anything. But um, but the shifts available in Pearl Harbor were very few in number. So you still have a hundred people picking ahead of you and it's just so nerve wracking because you literally have no idea what everyone in front of you is going to pick. And you have no idea why they're picking the ship that they're picking, whether it's based on the location or the class of ship or people that they'll be near or whatever. So I mean every pick is a pure toss up. But I knew that I wanted Hawaii and the only thing out in out in Hawaii are small boys, so just destroyers in one cruiser. And I ended up getting what I wanted and that was a cruiser out of Hawaii and so it all worked out. But it was definitely, Oh my gosh, it was so extremely stressful. All and just, it's like a slow motion type thing cause one by one everyone goes up to pick and you just don't know if they're going to pick what you wanted and it's going to be gone. So, but yeah, I was really happy, really, really happy that I got Hawaii and the ship platform too.

Speaker 1:

Absolutely. And so during your first year at the Academy, basically for everyone listening, you go through a thing called practicum. So once you find out what your service selection is, that second semester of your senior year, you have a practicum class where they kind of talk about what to expect when you get to your place for your respective community. If you don't mind telling the people a little bit, what'd you guys cover in your first a year SWO practicum course. What were some of the things that they try and teach the midshipman before you graduate and get sent out to a ship?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, so we covered a lot of the basics in practicum from what I remember, I'll be honest, I don't really remember that much, but I just remember that it wasn't anything crazy in depth, but it definitely allowed for like realistic expectations and a refresh on material that we learned in seamanship and navigation the previous three years. So it was good in say, I would say the one thing I remember more than anything is a lot of it is very conversational. It's asking your professor or the Lieutenant who was, is that designator like, Hey, what about this? What about that? And they give a lot of insight that you, you can't always get from a textbook type thing. So I remember being very appreciative of that aspect. It was a lot of mentorship and we talked about mentorship earlier. I think one of the big was the practicum Lieutenant.

Speaker 1:

Sweet. And so then right after practicum you have graduation, you throw your cover in there. Did you get basket leave or did you have to report beforehand? No, no basket. Lee's, Oh no,

Speaker 3:

I did not get the amount of basket leave everyone else got. So my ship was again a little bit of an unconventional situation. So my ship was getting ready to go on deployment right after I got there and they didn't want to send me to school in the middle of it. So I was sent to school immediately after commissioning. So I think I had about a week and a half or so basket leave compared to the 30 days. So yeah, right after graduation I pretty much reported to be doc and San Diego and then headed out to my ship in Hawaii. And basically after commissioning hit the ground running. Didn't really have much downtime before delving into this whole new career, but in hindsight, I actually really do appreciate how my timeline has worked out because it's allowed me to stay on track of my pipeline like pretty much by the textbook. So yeah, which is just not very common.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, no, absolutely. And you mentioned, I used the term be doc, you mind explaining a little bit what[inaudible] dock is, how long it is and kind of what you learned during that course.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, so BDOC stands for basic division officer course and it's, I think it was, it was around an eight week course and they offer one in San Diego and one in Norfolk. But it's basically it goes over, I mean what it sounds like based on all the basic information, so it's all the general knowledge for surface warfare that you should know like going to a ship, like a baseline of knowledge. So it was complete with a bunch of like simulator time, hands on damage control, training, should board visits, all that kind of stuff. And they teach you all of that basic information, if you will. That ends up allowing you to have more of a solid foundation when you started qualification process towards being a surface warfare officer. Okay,

Speaker 1:

sweet. And so you get no time off. Do you get like a, a week of leave, you had to be. Dot. And then you finished B dock and you fly out to Hawaii. What was life like for you when you are a brand new Jio on a new warship in Hawaii? What was that experience like? Transitioning, moving to Hawaii and then like checking in first time onboard.

Speaker 3:

So, Oh my gosh, it was life was a fire hose. Yeah. So I flew to Hull, I finished[inaudible], I flew to Hawaii and five days later we were scheduled to deploy for seven months. So still really no downtime. Um, and then it's just crazy. Everything feels foreign. Everything's new, you know, like from the get go, it's an immediate towards or qualification. You never know the answer to anything and it's not a trick. You just don't. And that's a, it's a very humbling experience, I will say. So you know, you're always just like having to look up all these answers, all these questions that you have no idea what even the question really means. But it's exhausting. But it's, it definitely, you know, truly it builds character, it builds, it's a dose of humility, but it was just, it was just a lot getting into it. But once you're in it, you know, you get into a group and you figure everything out and you figure out how to talk to people and who to talk to and how to get hope from whoever and start working on your calls and vision.

Speaker 1:

And so what was your first division? What, what was your billet for your first tour?

Speaker 3:

So I was the first Lieutenant on my ship. I was, I actually, I loved every moment that I was able to be that division officers. So as a first Lieutenant, I dealt mostly with a lot of the top side stuff. So underway. It was mostly like evolutions, whether that was flight deck operations, rib operations, rat, like replenishment at seas and all these other things. And then import, mostly dealt with like preservation of the ship and that sort of thing. But it was a great job. I loved every second of it. Loved working with the boats and mates. Arguably best division officer billet on the ship. I think I might be a little bit biased, but I was actually able to keep that pretty much the duration of my whole tour, which was nice cause I never really had to get acquainted with the new division or anything. So I did that for pretty much my full two years.

Speaker 1:

Absolutely. And so that, that's a difficult thing is like you're saying, getting acquainted with your division and not have to reestablish relationships with within it like a new division. And at the Academy one we build great relationships with our SELs just as a result of kind of the nature of that relationship. But how was it actually trying to establish your first relationship with your division chief and your division LPO at sea? How was that experience?

Speaker 3:

Well, I think I got really lucky. I know that some might not be as fortunate as others, but I actually had really great relationships with both my chief and my LPO. Immediately. We were always on the same page with things like sure day to day, like once in a while you'd have, you know, your differences and stuff. But I think collectively leading the division, we are always on the same page. Our leadership styles are very in tune with one another. We were very similar but it just made working with each other very easy. So it definitely set a high standard in terms of having really good like achieved to get along with. And I was lucky enough, like I said, to stay in the same division for the majority of my tour and I had the same chief the whole time too. So we worked together two years. Yeah. So it definitely, it makes a little bit of a difference, makes the experience a little smoother. But I would say I was, I got really lucky with the teamwork that we kind of had within the division for leadership.

Speaker 1:

Absolutely. And do you mind just explaining a little bit at a really high level, kind of what the role of a chief is in a role of an LPO within like a division and how you as the division officer interacted and kind of worked with those two individuals?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, so the chief is your deck plate leader for the most part. Like he will know the ins and outs. He went up, he will have like all the technical knowledge of basically all of the equipment that you're in charge of and what the, what the enlisted are supposed to be doing. So I would say his overall was Dyke plate management and making sure the technical side of things was like where it was supposed to be and how things were supposed to be getting done. The, uh, the LPO and the leading payoffs or was even much more deck plate leadership, like literally on the deck plates, making sure that everyone was doing what they were supposed to be doing and wasn't causing any issues for either myself or the chief. So yeah, it's, it's crazy sometimes. I mean, most of the people in my division were my age, if not a year or two different. So you're, you're, you know, you're having to lead 30 people that are your age. And then my chief was like mid thirties or whatever. So it's definitely funny sometimes when you think about like the situation you're in, in the role that you're in. But I always had amazing enlisted sailors who were always so respectful and just, I was proud to like be their Devoe and they made, they made it easy. They made me look good most of the time because they worked so hard. So yeah,

Speaker 1:

that's super awesome. Cool. Thank you for that. And so you mentioned that when you checked in, you guys were basically about to deploy. So did you do that deployment with them and how was that experience deploying?

Speaker 3:

Yes, I did. So I reported to my ship during a clean out or B dock and five days later we left Hawaii and we deployed for seven months. And so I was actually able to do deployment and fifth fleet, which is the middle East sixth fleet, which is Europe theater. And then seventh fleet, which is the Western Pacific. And so yeah, it was long and it was difficult for sure at times. But again, in hindsight, I'm really happy that I was thrown into it also quickly because being on deployment, we had a 212 day deployment and 200 days at sea, so pulled in four times, three days each. But that alone helped me to truly focus on like my qualifications and make the most out of my time to see. So I think it, it really helps set me up for a successful first tour.

Speaker 1:

Absolutely. And when you're actually out to sea as an unqualified junior officer trying to go through the, the service warfare qual, what is, what is your daily life like on deployment?

Speaker 3:

On deployment. Okay, so varies a little bit depending on what watch you ended up getting put on. But standard, um, you would stands six hours a watch a day. So two shifts of three hours each. And depending on one that was your day, kind of was focused around that. So you would have, you know, time with your division, doing the administrative stuff that you do as a division officer. You have your meals. My ship really pushed like PT times. So they would dedicate like two hours a day where you could go do PT and then the rest of the time you are running around asking everyone you can possibly talk to to help you with your qualifications. And then at night typically you're studying for your next board. So it's very, um, it's very much Groundhog day. I mean I seven months on so long, but it flew by so quickly and it's the same day became the same day and next thing you knew, like we are coming home. So it's wild how it works. But

Speaker 1:

yeah, absolutely. And so how was the actual qualification process itself and then once you got there, was there any feeling that surpassed earning your Swope in[inaudible]?

Speaker 3:

So man, the qualification process is, it's really intense and I will say it's, I think it's only grown a little more intense since I've left my first ship with the collisions that have happened. But it was definitely a constant stressor. A lot of the time it truly felt never ending because it was just you finished a call but then you had the next one and then the next one it kind of felt never ending at times. And some, you know, some people a little more difficult with boards than others, so you kind of have to learn the language of the board and that sort of thing too. But I was so static to finally have it over, it really was just like the biggest weight off your shoulders because you can devote more time to what you actually need to be they're doing, which is leading a division. So once, once that's out of the way, um, you have, you just have a lot more time for yourself and you have a lot more time to devote to other people, which is really good. So yeah, I was, I was really happy to finally have it over, like just became significantly.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, absolutely. And so kinda how was the, uh, the shift in your life as well? So you'd mentioned you had more time for other, other people, more time for yourself as well, but also being back in port. So once you get back from deployment, kind of how does life changed when you're in port versus out to sea?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, so I think it's a little more regimented. Do you only stand watch, you know, every six days is still pretty frequent, but you stand 24 hour duty every six days. So that means you just have to be on the ship 24 hours and then you'll have watches within that day. But so you get to go home every day and you guys go home and you're in. Why? So it's not that situation, but it just standard like division time, training, time study. I mean you can always be studying and learning stuff. So I think that's still always kind of falls into daily routine. And then, yeah, I think the biggest changes that you just don't have watch every day.

Speaker 1:

Absolutely. And how long were you on your first ship for? How long was your first tour? I was on it for 23 months. Okay, awesome. And it. And at what point during that time frame do you start looking at what you want to do next and where you want to go next in terms of your next job and kind of with that process, how did you figure out what you were going to do next?

Speaker 3:

Yes. Okay. So I, I was around 18 months into my tour, had about six months left when I got my slate to figure out, you know, gives me all the options of what is available to me next. And that's not even a guarantee, it's just what could possibly be available. So I, I loved Hawaii so much, but I had also just discovered that at the time do a second tour as a staff officer. And I talked to a few people who had done that for their second tour and they highly recommended it. They said, you know, it's, it's unconventional but you learn X, Y, and Z, but you also miss X, Y, and Z about being on a ship. So it's kind of like personal preference or whatever. I felt really compelled to do stuff, but I didn't know of any, we're going to be available on my slate. And the only reason I would leave why is if I was able to get Europe, Italy so long. The whole of my slate comes out and there is one billet for a snap officer job in Naples, Italy, and I was like, I'm going to go for it. I was like, this is exactly the bill that I wanted. I can't believe it's on my thing. Mine is low, go for it. And so I decided to, and I was lucky enough to get slated the ability. And so I think just having talked to a lot of people who had done that transition from a ship to a staff officer for their second tour was really insightful. They really were able to give me a lot of advice. I knew that eventually I wanted to, I want to shift to another community and I knew that a staff tour would, would help me kind of get there. And to be honest, I wasn't really sure what the staff tour was going to entail. I just knew I was going to be working around a wall of higher ranking individuals, but it's been so fun. It's been so exciting and I would not, I do not regret any decision about choosing it.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, absolutely. So what job did you pick? So you tell a little bit about people, what you're currently billeted for and what your current job is.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. So I got to the commands and I was told I was going to be an action officer, which was Bay. It was just basically, you know, the lieutenants kind of running the sixth fleet staff. So caveat, but day before in PCs, I got told that I was getting an order in that sense, our staff was shifting home port, shifting from Naples, Italy to rota, Spain. They were now going to send me directly to Rhoda with no time in Italy. So if I'm going to Spain now I show up and they, they're like, are you married? I said no. And they're like, do you have children? No. Like do you have any pets? I was like, no. And then they said, do you like to travel? And I was like, yeah. And they're like, well, we have the perfect job for you. You're going to be our commands exercise planner. So that's what I'm slated as. That's my current, my current job on the staff. It's great. It's amazing exposure. So a little bit on that. I basically, I kind of go around Europe to all the conferences that the ships are going to participate in. So the four ships we have assigned out here participate in all these different exercises within the Europe theater. So my role is basically to go to these conferences and be the representative for the ships and kind of plan out what their participation in the exercises are going to be. So I've, I've gotten to travel to so many different places. I've met some of the most amazing people but able to work with like NATO and all these other organizations that I never thought I would. And like a lot of interaction with a lot of senior ranking officers compared to me. I'm very low on the totem pole at the staff, actually the only JG and um, it has been the best experience.

Speaker 1:

So that, that's super cool. Um, yeah, so that's like a really sweet job. But I didn't realize that you were actually slated to go to Naples first and then basically ran before, got switched to Spain. How was that experience of one finding out so late that you were switching? Cause that's a real thing, right? Like that's, that's a real thing in the military is you have orders and then, and then you have completely different orders the day before you think you're supposed to leave. Yes. How were you able to like cope with that? I mean, obviously you're going to Spain, so it's not like the worst thing in the world.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, it was. Okay. So it was definitely frustrating because the way that I had kind of been briefed from my command is that I would be able, I would be kind of doing roughly a year in Italy and then my final year in Spain, which I'm like, wow, I landed the coolest orders ever. But then it got switched. Um, then there was a lot of talk. They were like, yeah, you're most likely gonna go to rota first. But then it was, wasn't, nothing was ever official until the day before. I literally was flying from Hawaii to go move my life across the world. So I'm a little bit of frustration, but I think one thing that I've learned in the military so far has been sometimes you just really can't choose like what's going to happen when you just gotta roll with the punches sometimes. Cause it's just things are going to happen the way that they happen and there's not much you can do about it and come to find out, I actually just incredibly now I'm very happy that I'm in Spain and not Naples cause I had done time in both. They send me on trips enables and I think I much prefer Rhoda. So cool. Yeah.

Speaker 1:

And so yeah, I mean I, I completely agree with that. I've always, and they kinda teach it at the Academy. The leadership thing is like, Hey, only focused on what you can control. Cause there are a lot of external factors that go on with being in the military. Um, but how, how was that experience now? So, all right, you're going to Spain. That's settled. How was the actual experience of moving to Spain and giving everything out to a foreign country and getting settled into life? Being stationed overseas,

Speaker 3:

it was difficult. I am not going to lie one ounce about that. It was definitely difficult. So one of the biggest things is since I was going to Naples, all my household goods, my vehicle, everything was getting shipped to Naples and they wouldn't reroute any of my stuff until it arrives in Italy and then they would rewrite it to Spain. So it was already taking time because it was coming all the way from Hawaii to the other side of the world. But then it tells you even longer because they weren't able to reroute my stuff once it was shipped. So several months before I received anything. So that part was well, you know, it's a little frustrating. It was difficult. But for me, I think one of the bigger things is I moved out to Rhoda, not really knowing a single person out here. I knew a few people from school, but a lot of the people I knew were transitioning from their first tour. Like me going onto their second one. So they were leaving Spain and then also the rest of my staff was in Naples, Italy. So there was only like three of us in Rhoda. Um, which was also difficult. And then just the cultural shock a little bit. It was hard, cause I, I can speak a little Spanish but it's not like I'm fluent in it and just literally picking up your life, shifting into a foreign country where you know, everyone is thinking Spanish and X, Y andZ is way different and this i sn't America, it doesn't have this or that or just, it was definitely a bit of a culture shock at first. But you know, as time goes on it gets t his year and you l earn the ins and the outs and you seek advice from the people that are here and you learn a lot. So right now it's wonderful. I love it. So, but at first it was, it was a little tricky f aculty t oo.

Speaker 1:

Absolutely. And so overseas housing does work a little bit differently from if you were to be stationed in what we call Konis, which is like inside the continental United States. How does housing work overseas? Are you required to live on base or can you live where you want and how does the money and the funding all work for that?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, so it is a little different. So instead of BH it's called, Oh ha LHA and there's a set amount for your rank. But unlike the age, you can't really pocket any or save any. So whatever your lease is written for is what is deposited into your account. So for myself, it's 1260 euros. So my lease is written for that and that's what gets deposited. So nothing additional gets, you know, like I can save or like get roommates and kind of like put a little money to the side or whatever. It's, it's strictly, um, is strictly that. But you can, you can live wherever you'd like. I'd say for the most part, most families, I think here live on base and base housing. Most of the junior officers, actually I think, don't quote me on this, but I believe you do have to be married to live on base. So pretty much everyone I know in my like peer group all, we all live out in town. Yeah.

Speaker 1:

And how is that, do you like where you live? Like how's that experience?

Speaker 3:

I love where I love, I scored an amazing apartment right on the water. So it's hard not to love, but it is a little tricky sometimes. You know, cause like Spanish culture, like CS does a very real thing here. Like everything just shuts down and opens back up at like 8:00 PM which is not traditional time for dinner in the U S and even here, usually if you're at dinner at 8:00 PM the only other people in the restaurant are Americans. So Spanish do dinner at like 10 11 o'clock at night. So there's a lot of stuff that's not open at the hours that we would typically need to go somewhere, which is interesting. But then there's, you know, a few establishments that do cater towards Americans also. So kind of find those and gravitate to them. But, uh, it's great. I think it's good because when you're working on base, while it is a Spanish base, everyone speaks English. You're not really having to insert yourself into the culture that much. But I think having to live off base in town allows you to experience more of like living in another country.

Speaker 1:

Absolutely. Cool. Yeah. So that's really cool. I mean it sounds like that that was a bit of a struggle to get everything finally squared away and settled and everything, but how, okay, so obviously the living piece was there, but how was the experience different from being PCs to a ship? So like actually being a part of ship's company to being part of a staff. Do you mind just explaining a little bit of the differential in, uh, kind of what your day to day duties and responsibilities are? Not even necessarily specifically with your billet, but just in general of being a part of a staff verse, being a part of ship's company.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, so for instance, I don't have a division anymore. I'm very much a, it's just me. I have a department head who's an encode, but it's just kinda like, it's just me. So that definitely changes things up because you're not really responsible for anybody but yourself, which is a weird feeling. Yeah. Especially coming from having to take care of 30 more housing than you have in your division. So it's different. So I would say another big thing is there's a lot of briefs that we have to sit in on just for, um, for knowledge, exposure, for insight, basically just for awareness of what's going on in the theater. So it varies like what your role is on the staff. But I would say for the most part, most of us are sitting in briefs a lot of the day. And then definitely the whole seniority thing is another crazy difference because on the ship, you know, you've got like everything from an[inaudible] to one Oh six, whereas on the staff you're pretty much dealing with like, Oh fours and above, like, yeah, see you way more animals than you knew existed. You, it's just a whole different world. It really, really is. And for me being an OTU, it's sometimes I'm just like,

Speaker 1:

is that I don't know what I'm doing, I'm just here.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. So, um, it poses some interesting things, but it's just a lot more, I felt like when I was on the ship, my day to day was geared a lot more towards leadership, whereas I feel like on the staff, my day today is centered a lot more around current events and what's going on in the world, which is totally different experience. Not saying one is better than the other, but it's just very different and both are very beneficial and different.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. And do you have to stay watch as a part of the staff and how frequent is that?

Speaker 3:

We do. So we stand a 24 hour watch. Mm. Two or three times a month. Okay.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, so definitely it definitely left less duty. Definitely less duty. Um, so less duty and no like division. So you definitely, it seems like you definitely have a little bit more time for yourself potentially in the bill, the ability to travel, which I do know that you have done. So we're just going to go straight into that. How has that experience been being able to live in Spain and having the freedom to kind of do, so you said you travel a lot for work, but you'll also have the ability to travel a lot just on your own. How's that been and can you tell us a little bit about some of the journeys that you've been on?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, so I have been here, I will hit being here a year in a week and I have done 18 countries and I had not been to any of them before I moved here. I had never been to Europe, had never seen it. And so yeah, 18 countries, it's a lot and it's, it's been so wonderful. The cool thing about sixth fleet theater is that the radius is Europe. So if I want to go to Greenland's, I can go to Greenland for the weekend. If I want to go to Paris, I can go to Paris and there's no questions really asked. So that is very, very different from most theaters. Most commands, like in Hawaii, we had to submit paperwork just to go to another Island, whereas here I can go all the way across Europe and no one's gonna really question it. So I have done a lot for work, but also for personal, I'm like really just wanting to take of the time while I am in Europe and we get granted four day weekends here and there. So I've always made an effort to go somewhere on those. But yeah, I think my favorite, some of my favorite places I've been for personal travel have been Norway Switzerland's and like Iceland, very Nordic, Nordic, mountainous countries.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. That's so cool. I'm super jealous and uh, for any of you who are interested in and kind of following some of those journeys. So she has an Instagram account that's T underscore by dot the dot. C T by the sea. And it kind of follows her as she travels through all these places and has a lot of really cool pictures and stuff. I highly recommend that you look at it like it's really cool. All the places that you've gone and all that is really awesome. And so I recommend if you do want to kind of follow those, those journeys and just see a little bit about like living in Spain and, and being a junior officer and getting to travel all the different places that you can be. It's cool to know because a lot of times people just think like, Hey, I'm a swell. I'm gonna go on a ship for two years and I'm going to go on a ship for two years. And then either I'm going to sign a department head or maybe I just like start my transition out of the military. But there are really so many opportunities that are out there like being a part of a staff in sixth fleet or in seventh fleet or even in fifth fleet that like can let you see the world and give you the opportunity to travel a lot. So one, I think that's super cool too. I really appreciate that you like post a lot about it because it's fun for us to be jealous of all the cool stuff that you do. So yeah, highly recommend that. But now we have kind of one more, one more question. In your opinion, and we're kind of getting back to whether this is on a staff or on a ship. Are there any specific challenges that you faced specific to being a female officer onboard? A warship. So I've heard some great stories about obstacles faced. There's this blog called the sisterhood of brother B, which is super awesome. They share a ton of stories about being a woman in the fleet. I'm just interested to see if you have or have experienced any specific obstacles or challenges that have been specific to being a female officer in the swell community.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. Yes it definitely, the challenges do exist and I think that each person kind of varies with them. I was on a ship where our wardroom was predominantly men, like very predominantly men. There are very few females and so that was kind of a, an interesting environment to be in on its own. Cause when you're a junior officer you kind of seek more senior females to be able to, to gain things from. And we didn't, we didn't have that on my ship. So whether that was turning to chiefs or whatever it, the, the construct just became a little different. But I've talked to other girls who are on ships and their boardroom is predominantly female and I'm like, wow, that probably completely changes like the environment that you're in. So it is interesting. I don't know if I ever can have, I can think of any very specific challenge, but I will say one, since I've been on a staff has been, most of the work I do is with foreign countries, foreign navies. And most of them have even fewer females in the military than we do. So females are very non-existent and a lot of their militaries. So for me to show up in a lot of the times I'll be the lead planner and I'm a female. I've had a few instances where people didn't necessarily like that, which isn't cool. Yeah. And it's hard to kind of, it's a cultural thing too. So it's interesting to kind of see that and go from country to country and like say hi, you know, I'm the U S representative for this exercise and you kind of get, you know, side. But it's not that bad. I would say I've been fortunate enough to not really have anything crazy, don't want, but I had definitely heard all kinds of things I have and like seeing sisterhood of mother B. I, I also follow that and stuff. So, yeah. Yeah.

Speaker 1:

Well, uh, thanks for sharing that, really do appreciate that. But we're gonna start to wrap it up now and finish it off with something that we call a lightning round of questions. Before we jump into that, I just want to clarify, use the term wardroom twice. So if you're not sure what that means, when we reference a wardroom in terms of actually being the fleet, that means like all of the officers that are at a certain command. So if you are an officer at a command, so whether it's on a ship or on a staff or at a shore command, whatever it is, the wardroom is just that conglomerate of all of the officers that are there. So hopefully that just provides a little context. But thank you. Alright, jumping into, finish off this lightning round of questions. First question, these are all basically going to be in regards to being at the Naval Academy. What is your favorite spot on the yard?

Speaker 3:

Oh, the seawall was my favorite.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. Yeah, that's, that's it. I would sit out there all the time. Like that's such a good spot. Oh man. Yeah, I agree. All right. Second question. What's your favorite meal at King hall?

Speaker 3:

Bob chicks?

Speaker 1:

Mmm. Classic. Yeah. Strong Thursday. Thursday afternoons can't be at M. yeah. In regards to signature sheets, what did you make your pleads do to earn your signature?

Speaker 3:

Oh, I made them tell me a fun fact. I'm a bit of a random knowledge, information person. So like tell me a fun fact.

Speaker 1:

Alright. Who was your, so you mentioned your FC chief earlier, but who was your biggest officer or senior enlisted mentor during your four years at the Academy?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I had a couple of professors who I had my plebe year and I was able to keep in touch with them.

Speaker 1:

Well that's awesome. Um, were they specifically exposed or were they just teachers that you got along with really well or,

Speaker 3:

yeah, they were just teachers who I really got along with and who seems very passionate about their military careers and a, just someone was very easy to talk to, so.

Speaker 1:

Absolutely. And then what is your favorite book?

Speaker 3:

Oh, my favorite book.

Speaker 4:

Okay.

Speaker 3:

That's a tough one.

Speaker 4:

Well,

Speaker 3:

Oh, it's called silence. Okay.

Speaker 1:

What's it, what's it about?

Speaker 3:

It's a, it's about this guy who tracks across Antarctica and about kind of like how modern society needs to take on more silence in their life.

Speaker 1:

Interesting. Cool. Yeah. All right. And then what is your greatest memory from your four years? Uh, in Annapolis.

Speaker 3:

Oh man, that's hard. There's so many catalogs I would say, you know. Okay. So a really good one was, so my company did a croquet and you were told that if we didn't win that croquet was going to be open to the rest of the Academy and we weren't having any of that. And so it was the first one of the first times where the team played to win and they won and we were able to keep curl within 28 company and I was just a blast. Like it was a really fun time. Everyone's super stoked. Cronkite in general is a good time. So on top of that, it just that as you play for the croquet team, I did not sound like you here I was a caddy and then after that I was a strong support.

Speaker 1:

Strong supporter. Absolutely. All right. And so a lot of the Academy insider audience is just loved ones of midshipman is trying to learn a little bit more about lefty Academy and after the Academy. But there are also a lot of people who are either candidates or trying to learn more about the Naval Academy in general. So if there is someone listening that is thinking about attending the Naval Academy, what advice or thoughts would you give them in terms of what to consider when determining whether or not the Naval Academy is a good place for them?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, so I think the Academy could be a good place for anybody. I think it's such a well rounded institution. People come from all walks of life. And with that being said, I think that's one of the biggest things to kind of keep in mind when you're there is that everyone's pretty successful. A lot of stuff that they do. So to keep, you know, a little humility but also like glean from from everyone that's around you because you can learn so much. I would say that pursue the things that you want to pursue and be passionate about the things that you want to be passionate about because everybody brings something different to the table. And I think that's what makes our mills such an amazing collective forces that we're all so different cause we all bring something different. So it's really easy. I think when you're at the Academy, it's kind of get sucked in or when you're applying, thinking that you know, all of these people are better than you or whatever, but I would just say, you know, like focused on yourself and what you bring to the table because chances are it's probably something pretty awesome, so.

Speaker 1:

Absolutely. All right. Well thank you so much. I really appreciate you taking the time to come on and share all these stories. Yeah, of course. All right, so everyone out there, I hope you all learned a little bit about surface warfare community and just general swell life from T's experience. Thank you guys so much. I hope you all have a great day and take care. Thank you all for listening to the podcast and I hoped you learned a little bit about the life of a junior officer in the surface warfare community from Theresa's story. Please leave me a review on iTunes and be sure to subscribe to the Academy insider podcast. If you want to learn a little bit more about the Naval Academy experience, check out my Facebook page, Academy insider, or go to my webpage, www.academy insider.com links discussed in the show. Specifically, the book that team mentioned will be listed in the show notes. My name is grant premiere, the Academy insider. Thank you so much for letting me be your guide to the United States Naval Academy.