Lt. Monica Cox: As a surface warfare officer, you’re ultimately responsible for all the lives on board your ship, because your ultimate responsibility is to qualify [officers the deck], and then you stand that watch, which means you’re driving the ship, making sure the ship gets to the location that it needs to, making sure you’re avoiding anything that could be hazardous to the ship.
I’m Lieutenant Monica Cox, I’m a Surface Warfare Officer with a Nuclear Subspecialty in the United States Navy.
I joined the program through Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps. From there, my senior year of college, I went and interviewed at Naval Reactors in Washington, DC. I did two technical interviews, passed both, and then met with the Four-Star Admiral, and was accepted into the program.
Tradition in the Navy is an officer commissions you. My brother happened to be a United States Navy Lieutenant at the time, and he commissioned me in to the Navy. My father happened to be retired from the United States Air Force at the time as an enlisted person, and he gave me my first salute. Since my entire family is military, they could be involved in my commissioning and my graduation from school.
As soon as you’re commissioned, you’ll head to your first ship. You’ll be there for 21 months to receive your Officer of the Deck qualification. That’s the main purpose of a surface worker officer, is to be a ship driver. From there, you’ll go to a nuclear power school in Charleston, South Carolina, which is six months long. Then you’ll head to nuclear prototype, which you can do in either Charleston, South Carolina, or Ballston Spa, New York, and that is also six months. We actually get to work on a actual reactor, and then from there, you’ll head to a nuclear power carrier, which are stationed all over the world, and you’ll serve on board for two years.
The Navy has allowed me not only to lead people, but grow as I did so. So I think the things that Navy has given me are the schooling -- you know, because I did my Bachelor’s degree, my Master’s degree, and all the training, and growing up, and leadership. Without the Navy, I would not be nearly as mature or as responsible as I am today.
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